British Columbia

Elk warning for Salt Spring — though they may just be enjoying an island holiday

A provincial wildlife biologist says Roosevelt elk are an unusual sight on Salt Spring Island, and is warning drivers about their presence.

Drivers should use caution at night in areas where they have been seen, biologist says

Two elk have been spotted on Salt Spring Island recently. A biologist says that's quite unusual. (Derek Melton)

A pair of Roosevelt elk have been surprising Salt Spring Island residents lately.

Provincial wildlife biologist Sean Pendergast said these ungulates are an unusual sight on Salt Spring, where deer are abundant, and he is warning drivers about their presence.

"An elk can do significantly more damage to a vehicle [than a deer] if you do happen to strike it," Pendergast said.

He said elk-human interactions can cause problems and drivers should use caution at night in areas where they have been seen.

He said the animals probably swam over from Vancouver Island. Elk are plentiful in the Cowichan Valley and the population has begun to expand.

'Looking quite at home'

Derek Melton was working in his home on Salt Spring Island when he looked up and saw the animals in his yard.

He managed to snap a few photos of them as they walked placidly through his garden on the southwest side of the island.

Salt Spring Island resident Derek Melton captured the elk as they walked through the deer-proof fencing of his garden. (Derek Melton)

"We have deer but these animals were looking quite at home and were definitely over twice the size of the deer," Melton said.

Pendergast says like many humans in British Columbia, these elk might just be on Salt Spring for a brief vacation. He said they may leave when they find no other elk on the island and realize their food sources aren't as abundant.

"They may just be exploring," he said.

With files from Liz McArthur