KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Great Smoky Mountains National Park is looking for volunteers to help manage public elk viewings in 2024 as the 25-year anniversary of elk reintroduction in the park nears.

Park rangers are looking to expand their Elk Volunteer-in-Park program for the 2024 season. Volunteers assist traffic management for the safety of visitors and the animals in addition to helping educate visitors about the park’s natural and cultural resources.

All elk volunteers are required to attend an in-person training led by rangers near Cherokee, North Carolina in April 2024. The training date will be announced in early 2024.

Interested participants must commit to a minimum of one four-hour shift per week beginning in May and continuing through mid-November, 2024.  

In 2001, wildlife officials began working to reintroduce the species that once roamed across North America to the park.

Most of the herd can be found around Cataloochee Valley and Oconaluftee Valley near Cherokee, North Carolina. The best time to view elk is from mid-September to mid-October during the ‘rut season’ when the herd gathers and male elk become more active and aggressive as they compete for female companions.