Elk really do get around.
A radio-collared bull elk, released near Cameron Lake back in January as part of an effort to reintroduce a herd to this area, was sighted near Ely in northeastern Minnesota by a Department of Natural Resources officer last week.
That’s a distance of about 240 km as the crow flies.
“I have information on that and I believe it to be true,” Mike Solomon, co-chair of the Northwestern Ontario Elk Restoration Coalition (NOERC), confirmed Monday.
“That is interesting [but] it is the normal course of events for them to wander—and that’s very desirable for us. It shows distribution inclination,” he reasoned.
“There’s no distress over them moving,” he added.
Mike Meskill, a DNR trails and waterways officer who spotted the bull elk, could not be reached for comment. But Dan Litchfield, a DNR wildlife technician in Ely, followed up on the sighting.
“I looked at the tracks and confirmed that they were larger than deer and smaller than moose,” Litchfield said yesterday morning.
Litchfield then called the Ministry of Natural Resources office in Kenora to confirm the type of radio collar and approximate size of the animal Meskill had reported.
“Everything fit into place—it’s pretty authentic,” said Litchfield, adding no elk farms or elk population otherwise exist in that part of the state.
Litchfield also believed the bull elk was the same one spotted near Mine Centre four weeks ago.
“It had to have crossed part of Quetico Provincial Park and a lot of the boundary waters to get here,” he reasoned. “It seems to be travelling in a southeasterly direction.”
Solomon had not yet talked with other NOERC members about the elk sighting in Ely but he did not expect any further efforts would be taken to search for the animal.
Meanwhile, another collared elk from Cameron Lake was seen standing in the graveyard at Big Grassy First Nations on Thursday.
“It attracted a good deal of interest and there were some tourists who stopped and took some pictures,” said Solomon, who’d had the sighting reported to him.
Solomon also said at least four new elk calves have been born since the herd arrived here.
A university student pursuing a master’s degree is slated to begin a two-year co-ordination of elk research monitoring here next month.