Elk pick-up back on track

After some unexpected setbacks last week, Mike Solomon, Vic Alberts, and Daryl Gaudry will be back on the road this weekend to pick up the remaining elk that will join the current herd at Cameron Lake next week.
“We are going to be leaving on the weekend and hopefully be returning by Monday,” said Solomon, co-chair of the Northwestern Ontario Elk Restoration Committee (NOERC).
“From what I understand, everything with the elk is as it should be so we are happy to be able to get back out there and get them,” he added.
The three had been en route to Elk Island National Park near Edmonton when they received word late last Tuesday that some of the captured elk there had died.
But Norman Cool, conservation biologist with the park, is certain there are no health issues threatening the remaining 52 elk despite the death of six of the animals while in captivity.
“Usually we handle these animals when it is about minus-20 outside,” Cool said. “When the six elk died, our temperature had gone up to the double digits.
“They died because it was too warm for them and their bodies could not offset the heat,” he noted. “Elk tend to do much better in the cooler temperatures because their bodies are so insulated during the winter months.
“With a thick winter coat and extra fat on their bodies, the elk are geared toward colder climates.”
Cool also said these animals are not used to being handled and put into corrals.
“They are wild animals so unfortunately that is the price you pay when you attempt to restore elk populations,” he remarked.
While reports of the deadly Chronic Wasting Disease affecting elk herds in Saskatchewan have been in the media of late, Cool said the animals at Elk Island National Park are healthy and in no way infected.
“We are a member of the international Chronic Wasting Disease survey,” he noted. “We send our elk who have been hit on the highway or have died for some other reason to be tested.
“We have been doing that for some time and each time the elk are shown to be healthy,” he stressed. “Chronic Wasting Disease is a non-issue for us.”
After observation and much care and attention, the elk there have been given a clean bill of health and are now ready to make the long journey to their new home.
“We have kept a close eye on them and they have all done very well,” Cool said. “The elk are in good condition and should do just fine in the move.
“We are happy to be able to give the green light.”