Theodore Roosevelt Helped Protect Olympic Elk

Roosevelt established Mount Olympus National Monument to protect the elk and trees which later later became Olympic National Park.
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Theodore Roosevelt dressed in expedition attire. c1909 Public domain photo.

Theodore Roosevelt dressed in expedition attire. c1909 Public domain photo.

Olympic National Park drew the attention of a number of presidents in its early days before it received national park status. In 1897 President Grover Cleveland designated part of what is now Olympic National Park as the Olympic Forest Reserve. By the time, Theodore Roosevelt became president, the population of elk in the reserve was decreasing. Roosevelt who played a critical role in conserving the elk in the area.

Known as the "conservationist president," Roosevelt established 150 national forests, 51 bird reserves, four national game preserves, five national parks and 18 national monuments during his presidency from 1901 to 1909.

In order to help boost population numbers, Roosevelt established Mount Olympus National Monument in 1909. It would be another 29 years before the area became Olympic National Park, thanks to President Franklin Roosevelt, who visited the monument in 1937. In 1938, he designated it a national park. The elk were named "Roosevelt elk" in honor of Teddy who helped ensure the elk were protected.

Roosevelt elk, also known as Olympic elk, live in the Hoh Rain Forest area of Olympic National Park. Visit this area of the park to see the elk living in herds of 20. They feed on the Hoh's shrubs, ferns and grasses, according to National Park Service. They are the largest unmanaged herd of Roosevelt elk in the Pacific Northwest.

A herd of cows along the Hoh River, Roosevelt elk are common inhabitants of the Hoh rainforest. Photo by NPS

A herd of cows along the Hoh River, Roosevelt elk are common inhabitants of the Hoh rainforest. Photo by NPS

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