Maggie Valley restaurants and shops are being bombarded with coloring papers featuring wild elk and information on how to protect them.
Scott Nielson, proprietor of Cabbage Rose, distributes the coloring pages and crayons himself.
The public has to be warned to reduce their speed in the presence of wildlife. Once an elk was hit by a car, and I waited with it for six hours until it was put to sleep, as Nielson put it. The goal of this program is to instill in them the knowledge to avoid approaching elk too closely.
The coloring pages feature photos of elk as well as cautionary phrases like “Maintain a safe distance near elk,” “Don’t get too close,” and “Elk are wild creatures.”
A recent town hall meeting where the topic of elk safety was discussed served as inspiration for the coloring pages.
That’s when I made up my mind,” Nielson said.
According to Nielson, a buddy created the sheets, and the effort took off from there, with a website featuring the coloring pages and additional elk history and information located at maggievalleyjuniorrangers.com.
By educating children about the elk, Nielson hopes that they will encourage their parents to drive more slowly along Soco Road. Nelson created stickers for the youngsters and envisions expanding the idea into a Junior Rangers-style program. The measures taken by one guy to ensure the safety of Maggie Valley’s elk.
The initiative is complementary to a community-wide drive to raise awareness of elk and everything that comes with them among locals and tourists alike.
To help lessen the frequency of fatal vehicle-elk incidents that occur between Maggie Valley and the Blue Ridge Parkway, six additional elk crossing signs have been put.