of the Elk continued
To view the elk, the
visitors were organized into three groups. In order to walk up to
the acclimation pen, you had to draw a number to be assigned to
one of the groups. The acclimation pen was a 1000 foot
muddy walk up the Big Fork Ridge Trail. The pen itself was a well
planned design. To minimize the trauma of the release, the
viewing area that the public was to use was limited. A wooden fence
was built near the release area of the pen so that the exposure
of the spectators to the elk was minimal. The pen was also built
in an area that had a small hill so that the elk could hide from
Early in the morning,
during the briefing by officials, we were warned of the many scenarios
that might occur. Biologist Kim Delozier warned that we may see
elk that emerge from the trailers with broken legs or
shoulders. He went of to say that we may see elk panic and
run into a tree or escape into the surrounding forest. In the event
of any of these occurrences, the park service was fully prepared
to address these potential problems. Fortunately, none of this happened.
As the gate to the
cattle carriers were opened, the tension in the air
could be felt. No one knew how the elk would leave the trailer.
three releases, none were the same. One common denominator
was true, after the gates were opened there was a pause before
the elk stormed out of the trailer. Although the pause of a few
seconds seemed like an eternity, it was followed by the sound of
hooves on the metal floor of the trailer. Most of the elk ran for
a distance of 40 or 50 feet and paused to get their "bearings".
Some stopped to graze on the few patches of grass in the pen, some
continued over the hill and out of site. All of the elk would eventually
wander out of site.
Until the final release
of the elk into the wild in April, the acclimation pen will be off
limits to the general public. As a result, the Big Fork Ridge Trail
will be closed. We will stay in contact with the Park Service to
learn of any additional information. If
the final release is open to the public, we will post the details
on this web site.
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