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Teddy's elk strays from Upper Pitt

Loyd Simpson snapped a photo of the young bull Roosevelt elk after hiking near Blaney Bog. - Contributed
Loyd Simpson snapped a photo of the young bull Roosevelt elk after hiking near Blaney Bog.
— image credit: Contributed

A Maple Ridge couple may have stumbled upon a four-legged visitor from the upper Pitt Valley.

Loyd and Sandy Simpson were hiking in the Blaney Bog area last week when she spotted what looked like elk droppings. They saw them in a few locations, went out searching for a few days, then on Friday, Loyd spotted him.

What he saw was a young bull Roosevelt elk with antlers in a secluded area, munching on the local vegetation.

"I think this guy's been there for a couple months," Loyd said.

It was a rainy day, not the best for photos, but Loyd managed to snap a few frames of the animal. While rain doesn't make for great photos, it makes for quieter walking through the woods, he said.

But Loyd didn't have to worry about being so quiet, as the elk was making all kinds of noise, banging and crashing his way through the woods.

"When I got close to him, he was pretty easy to follow."

Loyd said he's lived in Maple Ridge for 30 years and it's the first time he's seen an elk. He was about 20 metres away and zoomed into 10X on his Nikon camera to get the picture.

He figures the elk is minding its own business and living under the nose of a couple hundred residents who don't even know he's there. He doesn't want to give the exact location.

"This is something. It's really exciting."

The elk is likely a stray from an original herd of 23 that the Ministry of Environment moved into upper Pitt Lake area in January 2005 in order to repopulate the area with the native species.

Roosevelt elk, a fifth larger in size than Rocky Mountain elk, used to populate the Lower Mainland, but were wiped out at the turn of the 20th Century by hunting.

A small herd survived on Vancouver Island and has been used to repopulate other coastal areas.

It was hoped that the herd would double in five years, which is it what seems to have happened.

Darryl Reynolds, ecosystem biologist with the Ministry of Environment, is in charge of the repopulation project.

"They're doing really well and there's probably about 50 of them.

"They're all over the place."

Conservation officer Denny Chretien said the herd has established itself. "It's quite normal for bulls to take a long walk, trying to establish their own herds. It's a good sign that the population is increasing."

Having elk in the upper Pitt area is expected to take some pressure off black-tail deer as a food source for cougars and provide other food for wolves and bears.

People shouldn't approach elk, which can be dangerous.

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