A small herd of elk that were re-introduced into the Upper Pitt River appear to be thriving.
The Roosevelt Elk have become an occasional target for photographers, and some captivating images are showing up in social media again.
Ralph van Woerden shot some much-appreciated video of the herd crossing the river and posted it to the Facebook page Good Life in Chilliwack on Wednesday night.
A group of 23 animals was relocated from the Sunshine Coast into Upper Pitt Lake in January of 2005, as the Environment Ministry attempted to bring back a population that had been wiped out by over hunting in the early 1900s.
A decade later, the herd had tripled in size. Elk generally live 12-15 years in the wild, so the original elk have by now likely passed, leaving their healthy offspring.
Their numbers recovered enough that the Environment Ministry allowed a small hunt in 2015, with two tickets on a limited entry draw, and two bulls for the Katzie First Nation.
Sgt. Todd Hunter of the Conservation Officer Service said they actively patrol the area to protect the animals from unlawful harvest, and they are still known to be a healthy herd. He said the COs take a vested interest.
“Our first priority is to protect them for future generations, First Nations, and resident hunters,” he said, adding that the animals have cultural and ceremonial significance for First Nations. Hunter said doing enforcement in the area is enjoyable work, because they live in pristine wilderness at the north end of the Pitt Lake Drainage.
But that doesn’t keep the animals from coming to town.
In the summer of 2013 the elk were spotted by photographers in Maple Ridge on the Lougheed Highway, and they have been seen in the Albion area.
Two year ago a gang was photographed crossing Pitt Lake.
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