Sunday 26 June 2022

A Herd of Elk (Wapiti)

    Everyone calls these animals Elk, but more correctly they are “Wapiti.  The word “Elk” is a European word that refers to a Moose, but these large members of the deer family are more properly termed “Wapiti”.  Wapiti is a Shawnee word meaning “white rump”.   I will join the crowd and call them Elk.

    Elk are commonly seen in Banff and Jasper National Parks.  In the late 1800’s and the beginning of the 1900’s Elk in the Canadian Rockies were almost wiped out by hunters.  In 1917 they were re-established in Banff and Jasper Parks and have thrived.  While tourists love to see them, they often become pests in the Banff and Jasper townsites, sometimes injuring people who get too close to them.

    We didn’t see any Elk at all in the Robson Valley until maybe 30 years ago and they are now well established.  Too well established, the local farmers will tell you.  Local farmers had always been able to store some of their hay outside during the winter, until Elk herds suddenly appeared and started eagerly eating it. 

    This herd hangs out east of McBride.  We haven’t really seen it for a few years, but it was out grazing last night when we were coming home from visiting friends.

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