SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — A herd of elk near the I-80 and I-215 interchange was on the move again this morning. Three more elk were hit by vehicles on the freeway, prompting Utah Highway Patrol to remind drivers to watch out for them when traveling in that area.
“Our big concern is traffic going through here at freeway speed, so we try to get them to slow down when the herd moves toward the road. Then, when we can get the resources in place, we have to shut down the freeway and then we can get them to cross,” said UHP Trooper Fred Vincent.
This short clip shows the herd of elk strolling on I-215 this morning:
Out of the three elk hit Friday morning, two of them died. Another broke its leg and had to be euthanized. The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources says all the snow is bringing them down lower than usual as they are looking for food.
“It’s been several years since we’ve seen the elk down this low, but I think it’s all due to the dry winters so they stayed up in the mountains,” said Vincent.
Multiple elk were killed in the same area on Wednesday, Feb. 1, when they were crossing the I-80/I-215 interchange. Two of the elk were hit and killed prior to the closure, and two others were injured and forced to be euthanized as a result.
The elk that were euthanized will reportedly be donated to the Game Meat Donation program, so the meat won’t go to waste.
The first elk sighting in the area happened on Thursday, Jan. 26, when they congregated right next to Interstate 80 and later ran across Foothill Drive.
Heidi Taylor, who frequently walks around Parley’s Canyon, says she always enjoys seeing elk but worries about them getting so close to people and the roads.
“It’s actually awesome. I love running into them but I worry about them going down there on the freeway,” she said.
Vincent said they could be sticking around for a while, and are asking Utahns to be mindful while they’re on these roads.
“They’re not gonna go anywhere till the weather gets better,” Vincent said.
UHP said to slow down and look ahead when you drive to avoid hitting any elk, but if you happen to get in an accident, pull over somewhere safe if possible and call 911.