PARLEY’S CANYON, Utah (ABC4) – The Country Club near the mouth of Parley’s Canyon was home to an estimated 80 to 120 elk, but today, Mar. 19, the Division of Wildlife Resources and the Utah Highway Patrol said it was time for them to head back home.
“Seriously though, we’re very grateful to the Country Club,” said DWR Conservation Outreach Manager Scott Root. “We just had nowhere to put them. You can’t just move 80 head of elk, and so we had to wait for a Sunday morning when traffic wasn’t as bad and push them up the mountain.”
Sections of I-80, East Canyon, Parley’s Way and Foothill Drive were closed to allow the elk to cross the roads safely.
“We were very lucky, as far as I can tell, that we did push them right where we wanted them to go,” said Roots. “No accidents on I-80 or on Foothill. So hopefully they’re up on the mountain and everything’s good. We could see them go up the mountain, let’s just hope they’ll stay up there during the next week of winter.”
Officials say that the reason the elk moved down in the first place was because of the storms and snowfall we’ve been seeing all winter.
“I mean they were hungry, the snow was deep, it was cold,” said Roots. “This rivals some of those really serious winters in the past and they came down for survival and we’re grateful that we could get them back up now and let’s just hope they stay.”
If the elk do decide to head back down, there are plans in place to help push them up again. However, no one could blame them for wanting to come down from the mountains.
“I mean if I could retire to the Country Club every winter I would do it,” said Roots.
Officials say the relocation effort went without any issues and that there was even a crowd there to cheer on the elk as they made their way home.
“This is a once-in-a-lifetime wildlife viewing opportunity,” said Roots. “Especially for those in the big city, you know, Salt Lake. We had a great view and I mean what a neat opportunity to watch our state animal.”