Elk hunting is incredibly popular to the point hunting licenses and permits typically sell out quickly. It seems the elk themselves may be aware of this, as their intelligence is causing some big problems for local hunters in Utah.
Utah hunters are in another league concerning hunting problems with a study suggesting elk in the area seem to be aware when it’s hunting season. The Journal of Wildlife Management published the study last month and found elk reduced using public lands by 30 percent in the middle of rifle season. Instead, they move to private land where it is illegal to hunt unless people have the landowner’s written permission to do so. Incredibly enough, the herd returned to public land almost immediately after a season ended.
The study’s senior author, BYU professor Brock McMillan, commented on the baffling discovery. “It’s crazy. On the opening day of the hunt, they move, and on the closing day they move back. It’s almost like they’re thinking, ‘Oh, all these trucks are coming, it’s opening day, better move,” Deseret News reported.
The findings come from 445 elk researchers tagged with tracking collars after capturing them along the Wasatch range. The collars transmitted coordinate information every 13 hours, which they studied from 2015 to 2017. The results they received also explained why elk harvest rates were so low when hunting on private land was prohibited in 2015.
This may actually be a problem in Utah. Since the state is wolf-free, humans are an “important predator” to help control elk. Significantly reduced successful hunts could harm wildlife habitats across the state due to uncontrolled populating and the elk feeding on food set aside for livestock.
Luckily, private land permits are helping control the elk now.
Herd of Elk Halts North Carolina Traffic in Town
While Utah elk are expertly evading hunters, a herd in North Carolina went sightseeing earlier this year. The herd casually strolled around a town there and stopped traffic while doing so.
WBIR Channel 10 broke the news last month and even posted a video about the encounter that dean Cloer managed to record while caught in traffic. Happening in Cherokee, North Carolina, the town experienced a unique kind of traffic jam. Happening on January 3 this year, the elk crossed Highway 441 near Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The news outlet reports elk sightings have become increasingly common in the past few years. This likely results from them being reintroduced into Great Smoky Mountains National Park a little over 20 years ago.
National Park Service officials and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation released 25 elk in 2001. After releasing another 27 the next year, they slowly reintroduced the species to the area to great success.