Elk herd returns to SLC golf course after multiple relocation attempts

Mar 26, 2023, 6:55 PM | Updated: Mar 27, 2023, 11:01 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — A large herd of approximately 80 elk found solace at a golf course during the winter months before they were relocated back to Parleys Canyon by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. A week later, the elk returned to the golf course.

In late January, DWR officials warned locals of the herd as they were crossing big roads in the area, including Foothill Boulevard and Interstate 80, when migrating from the canyon in search of food.

A few days later, on Feb. 1, four elk were hit and killed on a busy road when a group of an estimated 20 elk parted ways. Two were killed by the impact, and two others were injured and euthanized.

That’s when temporary traffic control was put in place while DWR biologists herded the elk across I-215 and I-80.

Two days later, another three elk were hit and killed in traffic. At this point, DWR officials said they believed the majority of the elk had set up camp at The Country Club golf course, where they stayed for over a month.

The DWR came up with a creative plan to relocate the elk back to the canyon during that time. After all, a DWR manager said, it wasn’t such a bad place for them to be considering the alternative was running across I-80, Foothill Boulevard or I-215.

The Utah Highway Patrol and DWR warned locals about road closures in advance as it was a long trip with many roads for the elk to cross.

They planned to form a human chain with approximately 20 DWR workers and coax the herd of elk above Parleys Canyon.

On March 19, people gathered to watch the mitigation, which went “exceptionally well.” KSL’s Chopper 5 cameras tracked the whole thing.

The elk were back in Parleys Canyon. The plan had worked, until now. A witness sent KSL TV photos with tens of elk that were spotted near the golf course and the mouth of Parleys Canyon Sunday, just one week after the big mitigation effort.

Neighbors told KSL TV on Monday that they’ve had fun watching the herd and weren’t surprised to see them back.

“Apparently, from what I’ve learned, elk are a little bit like elephants; they have a great memory,” said Robert Richards, adding that he wakes up every morning, curious as to where the elk will be. “We may now see this happen every year.”

The Leone family said they bonded with one of the elk, who spent the last several weeks in their backyard. They even gave her a name.

“We named her Gladys,” said John Leone.

Richards said Monday morning, 35 to 40 of the elk were back on hole nine of the Salt Lake Country Club golf course. He said they’ve gotten a kick out of the herd’s patterns.

“They follow a specific matriarch,” he said. “It’s not one of the bulls, it’s one of the matriarchs that makes all of the decisions.”

Neighbors said they know the elk have likely damaged the golf course, but it’s been interesting with them there.

DWR said they are monitoring the elk and will make decisions on what to do, as needed.

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Elk herd returns to SLC golf course after multiple relocation attempts