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Elk taking a self portrait in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Elk taking a self portrait in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park

Did you know there are elk in the eastern United States? I didn’t either until we moved to Asheville, North Carolina and began visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In 2001 this magnificent species was reintroduced to the park. What started as an experimental population of 25 individuals is now a thriving herd of more than 140 animals.

Elk self portrait in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Elk self portrait in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

We were photographing elk in the park this week and I decided to try shooting some time lapses of animals moving across the meadow. I left my camera set up on a tripod with the intervalometer shooting a frame every five seconds and walked away to see what would happen. Soon, a female approached my camera from the side and began sniffing and licking it. Finally she walked directly in front of it and took this perfect self portrait.

You can watch the video of the Elk Shooting a Self Portrait here.

Elk were once common in the area but were eradicated by hunting and loss of habitat. After an absence of more than 200 years, you can now once again hear the incredible sound of bugling elk in the Smoky Mountains. If you’d like to see elk in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park, visit the Catalochee area in the eastern edge of the park. You can drive past the meadows at virtually any time of day and see a few elk strolling through. If you want to see larger numbers, show up in late afternoon or early evening to watch them congregate. If you stay in the campground you are likely to see elk wandering right by your picnic table!