In a stunning display of nature's resilience, a large elk herd that had taken refuge in a Salt Lake City golf course this winter has been successfully returned to its native habitat in Parleys Canyon. This remarkable achievement was made possible by the collaborative efforts of Utah wildlife biologists, & law enforcement. This highlights the need for wildlife crossings to provide safe passage for Utah's wild animals.
SALT LAKE CITY - A large herd of elk that had found refuge on a Salt Lake City golf course during the harsh winter months was recently moved back to its native habitat in Parleys Canyon, thanks to the efforts of Utah wildlife biologists and law enforcement officials.
The mitigation effort was a major undertaking that required careful planning and execution. Dozens of spectators gathered to watch as the elk sprinted back to their natural habitat. The herd crossed freeways and used pathways on their journey from the Salt Lake Country Club back into the canyon in about 10 minutes.
KSL-TV Chopper 5 cameras tracked the herd throughout the process, capturing footage of the herd taking a brief break near a quarry in the canyon before continuing farther into it.
The large elk herd had been camping at the Salt Lake City golf course located near the mouth of Parleys Canyon for over a month, according to the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. The animals caused I-80 closures as they ventured into the valley in late January and early February, looking for food due to the snow-packed canyon.
The deep snow in the mountains near Parleys Canyon had stressed the elk, and the Division ultimately decided to let the elk rest there until the conditions in the foothills improved. As deep snow melted from the south-facing slopes in the mountains, wildlife biologists anticipated that the elk would be able to find food in their native habitats.
"We felt like it was a good day," said Utah Division of Wildlife Resources spokesman Scott Root. "We realize that this stressed the elk, but for public safety reasons, we had to get these elk back to where they belong up there in that higher country."
The elk herd's safe return to its natural habitat highlights the importance of wildlife connectivity and migration corridors for Utah's native wildlife. Without these vital links, wildlife can become isolated in fragmented habitats, leading to a decline in populations and even extinction.
The Utah Wildlife Federation has been instrumental in advocating for policies to protect and restore intact fish and wildlife connectivity and migration corridors in Utah. The UWF works to ensure the long-term viability of species and ecological processes in the state through collaborative, proactive projects.
The recent efforts to move the elk herd back to its native habitat is a prime example of the importance of wildlife crossing and migration corridors. It highlights the need for continued state investment in wildlife crossing and the adoption of policies to protect and restore these vital links.
The UWF is committed to working with the Division of Wildlife Resources, Utah Legislature, and other experts in the field to identify opportunities and challenges to protecting and restoring landscape connectivity for native wildlife in Utah. By promoting the importance of wildlife crossings and migration corridors, the UWF hopes to facilitate collaborative, proactive projects that ensure the long-term survival of Utah's native wildlife.