Though native and once abundant in the South Carolina Upstate, elk have been completely absent from the area since early colonial times.

That changed recently when a lone bull elk was spotted wandering through northern Pickens County, not far from the Foothills Trail and the Eastatoe Heritage Preserve.

“This is a historic moment that some of us knew would eventually come,” noted outdoorsman and Pickens County resident Dennis Chastain told the Greenville News. “This is the first wild elk to roam the woods and wild places in South Carolina since they disappeared in the early 1700’s.”

According to witnesses, many of whom posted images and videos of the elk on social media, the animal does not seem to be wary of humans.

Some are speculating that the elk has been displaced from the well known Cataloochee Valley herd in the nearby Smoky Mountains of North Carolina.

Thanks to the work of Chastain and others through a conservation group called the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, it is currently illegal to hunt or kill elk in the state of state of South Carolina.

Related: