UPDATE: Tennessee's First Elk Hunt Put Off Until 2009

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- The small herd of majestic elk reintroduced in Tennessee since 2000 has gotten a reprieve. The first hunt won't happen until 2009.

The Tennessee Wildlife Resources Commission voted to delay the inaugural hunt another year to have more time to establish the licensing process, promote an auction for the first permit and possibly acquire more animals.

The large animals disappeared from Tennessee in the 1800s for the same reasons as elsewhere in the eastern United States -- too much hunting, private ownership of land and loss of habitat.

The last recorded native elk in Tennessee was killed in Obion County in 1865.

Following the example of a few other eastern states, including border states Arkansas and Kentucky, Tennessee began an elk restoration program in late 2000 with the release of 50 animals in the Royal Blue Wildlife Management Area on the northern Cumberland Plateau.