GATLINBURG (AP) - At least five elk calves and possibly several more were born this season in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, officials said Monday.
They are part of a reintroduction project begun in 2001 with the first release of elk transported from the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area in western Kentucky.
If all the confirmed and suspected calves survive, they would raise the total number of elk in the park to almost 70.
Park biologists believe 16 of the estimated 54 elk in the park may have been pregnant going into the calving season this June and July.
Officials have seen five calves and placed a radio collar on one. Four were born to cows relocated from Kentucky. Two cows from Elk Island National Park in Canada gave birth to the others, but one calf was killed, probably by dogs or coyotes, park rangers said.
Park biologists say up to five more calves might have been born in the park, but they haven't been able to confirm the births because most of the Canadian-born cows are rarely seen and are hard to track.