NASCAR Driver Ryan Newman Adopts an Elk from North Carolina’s Grandfather Mountain

by TK Sanders

NASCAR driver Ryan Newman accepted an elk from North Carolina’s Grandfather Mountain in April as part of a conservation reassignment effort. Habitat experts will move Doc the Elk, named after the famous guitarist Doc Watson, to Newman’s farm in the interest of ecosystem and habitat protection, CBS reports.

“When we chose to renovate that habitat and bring in elk, we felt like the habitat could support three adult elk. However, when we got them here, we realized the toll that these heavier animals have on their environment; with their larger hooves and different feeding behaviors. During the rut season, we also started having dominance issues between the three elk, with Doc being the most dominant of the three. We felt like it was a good move to try to find another home for him,” said Jesse Pope, President & Executive Director of Grandfather Mountain.

Newman, an active outdoorsman and conservationist, stepped up to purchase the elk for his specialty ranch.

“While we were in the process of working with the state of North Carolina to identify a new home for Doc, we were very particular about the people we would work with,” Pope said. “We were very fortunate to partner with Ryan Newman. He has a wonderful facility and a passion for wildlife and conservation. After many discussions with Ryan, we both agreed that selling Doc to him was the right move for all involved.”

Ryan Newman’s ranch hosts dozens of species, including elk, for conservation and educational purposes

The 18-time NASCAR Cup Series winner picked up his new “pet” in early April, calling the process a “good opportunity” for all parties involved.

“It’s a good opportunity for all. The important thing is that we all get the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors; and that’s what’s so cool about Grandfather Mountain. It’s a beautiful place and allows people to see something they wouldn’t see, especially on this side of the Mississippi,” said Newman.

Doc’s old handlers from Grandfather Mountain recognize the necessity of the move, and appreciate Newman’s willingness to help; but they still miss their majestic beast roaming the hillsides.

“The process of moving Doc went smooth, and we very much appreciate Ryan for giving Doc an amazing home. He’s at a great place, but we miss him,” said Christie Tipton, Animal Habitats Curator with the Grandfather Stewardship Foundation.

Luckily for Tipton and her colleagues, though, Newman has happily provided updates on Doc’s status since the move. And most importantly, the Grandfather habitat can begin healing naturally.

“Elk are quite different than deer,” Tipton explained. “Their hooves are designed for aerating the soil, which is great for the environment when they’re out in the wild. But it can be tough for the soil in a smaller area.

“They also like to chew on all the trees. And the elk like to till up the ground when they are in rut. It has been rough on the habitat.”