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Elk making themselves at home in Maple Ridge

Bull elk stand on Lougheed Highway near Kanaka Way. The pair have been spotted grazing along the green belt. - Luke Mangus Tengs
Bull elk stand on Lougheed Highway near Kanaka Way. The pair have been spotted grazing along the green belt.
— image credit: Luke Mangus Tengs

Elk have made their way to the Albion Flats, posing as a potential traffic hazard along Lougheed Highway.

Luke Tengs, of Maple Ridge, was driving westbound along Lougheed Tuesday at 9:30 p.m., when he spotted a pair of elk on the northern shoulder of the highway, about 50 metres from the intersection at Kanaka Way.

Tengs wasn’t sure what they were at first, but remembered hearing about sightings of elk in the Albion area.

“It surprised me at first. It looked like they were trying to cross the highway, but they kept scampering back every time a car went by.”

Tengs went home initially after spotting the elk, but decided to return with his camera a couple hours later and see if they were still hanging around. Sure enough, about 20 minutes later, they reappeared and began grazing on the grass in the same area.

“They’re pretty majestic,” he said.

Tengs doesn’t want to see them harmed and fears for their safety and that of motorists on the highway as the elk try to cross it.

There have been a number of sightings of the elk in Albion the past three weeks. Jeff Boyce was driving west across the Kanaka Creek bridge on the Lougheed Highway when he spotted the animals on July 25.

He called the local conservation office to report the sightings.

A conservation officer will be looking into the issue next week.

The elk could be from the original herd of 23 that was relocated into Upper Pitt Lake in January 2005. The Ministry of Environment took on the project in order to repopulate the area with the Roosevelt elk, which were native to the area before being wiped out by hunters at the turn of the 20th Century.

The ministry repopulated the area in the Upper Pitt Lake in order to take some pressure off black-tail deer as a food source for cougars, as well as to provide other food for wolves and bears.

The ministry of forests said they have been a number of relocation programs in the region over the past 10 years and elk are quite successful at repopulating. However, the ministry  isn’t sure of the ones in Albion are from the 2005 Upper Pitt Lake program.

Roosevelt elk are about one-fifth larger than Rocky Mountain elk.

 

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