While traveling in the NC mountains along HW441 in Cherokee NC I was startled to see a male elk grazing on the side of a mountain about 100 yards off the road. This was the first time that I have seen an elk and they are truly magnificent animals. I later found out they were native to the NC mountains, as were bison, but were hunted to extinction in the 1800's.
Interestingly enough, I also recently saw, for the first time, a pair of bald eagles fishing at Lake New Bern. I had heard of bald eagles nesting in the Croatan Forrest area but was shocked to see a pair in town. Our local bird expert, Dr. Bob Holmes, told me that the pair nest about a mile away on the Neuse River. While we have done a better job of cleaning up the Neuse and Trent Rivers there is still room for improvement.