The herd of Roosevelt elk which was reintroduced to the Upper Pitt Lake area almost 10 years ago have prospered to the point where the Environment Ministry allowed a small hunt of the herd for the first time this year.
A herd of 23 was relocated into Upper Pitt Lake in January of 2005, as the Environment Ministry attempted to bring back a herd that was wiped out by over hunting in the early 1900s.
“Now the population has expanded to the point where we could have a hunt,” said conservation officer Sgt. Todd Hunter.
He estimated there are 67-75 animals in the Pitt Lake area now.
Sport hunters were successful in taking two of the animals, with tickets issued on a limited entry hunting draw.
Two other bulls were allocated to the Katzie First Nation, and so far they have been successful in taking one of the animals.
“The Katzie were really happy to get the hunt back – it’s been 100 years since they’ve been able to hunt elk,” said Hunter.
He said the ministry believes that a limited hunt will not place too much pressure on the populations. Its policies
“Sustainable harvest is always good for population dynamics.”
Their life span in the wild is generally 12 to 15 years, so some of those original elk will be nearing the end of their natural life.
The ministry also placed 20 elk in the Indian River area in 2006, and in the Upper Stave Lake area in 2007. The relocated animals originally came from the Sunshine Coast and Powell River areas.
In August of 2013 Roosevelt elk were photographed on the Lougheed Highway, near Kanaka Creek. They have been frequently sighted in the Albion flats area, and environment ministry biologists also took that as a good sign that reintroduced elk are thriving.
Roosevelt are the largest species of elk in North America, and the largest adult bulls can stand 1.5m at the shoulder, and weigh up to 500 kg.