3 elk die after herd wanders onto roads near Parleys Canyon

Feb 3, 2023, 5:32 PM | Updated: 7:47 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – A large herd of elk continues to keep motorists and state troopers on high alert near the mouth of Parleys Canyon.  Several elk died in collisions with cars Friday morning.

The Utah Highway Patrol is reminding people driving in that area to be extremely cautious.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources estimates there are still 50 to 60 elk in the area around the mouth of Parleys Canyon.  Two died in collisions Friday morning and a third was euthanized after it was injured by a car.  The DWR and UHP can’t really tell how much longer they will continue to forage in this area.

“They’re wild animals,” said Trooper Kendall Holland, who has been trying to keep the elk out of harm’s way since the beginning of the week. “They are unpredictable. They can walk into traffic. They’re a distraction for people that are driving down the road.”

Just as the sun rose Friday, many of the deer were moving around at the top of Parleys Way before retreating to the golf course at the Salt Lake Country Club.

“They are giant 700-pound animals that if they end up in front of you on the road, and you end up hitting them, it could be catastrophic,” Holland said

He said it would be much more dangerous than hitting a deer, which would be about half the weight.

“We have had all types of different situations in my 32 years of elk being in trouble in some spots,” said Scott Root, conservation outreach manager with the DWR.  “This one is probably the most dangerous.“

They believe the majority of the elk settled down on the golf course.  For now, that’s not a bad place for them to be, Root said, when the alternative is running across Interstate 80, Foothill Blvd., or Interstate 215.  They could move around again at any time.

“They’re starting to get a little bit antsy as we’re getting a little bit warmer weather,” Root said.

The deep snow drove the elk down into neighborhoods, and the DWR does not think they will move back up until they have some open ground for grazing. 

“We just hope that they are going to do that sooner rather than later, and stay up. But we pushed them up the first time and the snow is still too deep and it was still too cold, and they just came right back the next day,” Root said.

The elk have been roaming the area since the beginning of the week.  They go where they want to go and herding them is not really an option. 

“Elk don’t typically like to be around people if they can help it,” Root said. “So, I’m hoping it’s days rather than weeks.“

“They’re unpredictable,” Holland said. “They’re only going to go where they want to go, and right now this is where they want to go.”

The UHP is warning drivers in the area to be especially cautious at night.  Electronic signs urge drivers to be on alert for elk and be ready to stop and give other motorists plenty of room to stop in case an elk wanders on to the road.

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3 elk die after herd wanders onto roads near Parleys Canyon