Walking to the falls on Halfmoon Creek (near Halfmoon Bay on the Sunshine Coast), I ran into this small herd of Roosevelt elk. I’d seen them a few times previously, with the impressive bull who seems to be doing quite well for himself. In fact he almost looks smug.
I could have easily missed them in the low evening light. Just an odd flash of white, a bit of movement that looked out of place. They emerged from the timber, slowly, feeding cautiously.
The dog and I sat quietly, behind some shrubs, and watched the herd for about twenty minutes. Of course they saw us. Ever wary, elk don’t miss much. But as long as we made no sudden movements, they were comfortable enough to keep feeding while allowing me to take a few photos.
The Roosevelt elk, named after U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, range throughout the coastal regions of British Columbia, Washington and Oregon. Roosevelts differ from the Rocky Mountain elk, having generally bigger bodies, darker color and smaller antlers.
According to a report by Ecologic Consulting of Duncan, BC, the Sunshine Coast is home to a large population of Roosevelt Elk whose range and population are increasing by approximately 20% per year. Ironically, clear-cut logging is contributing to the health of the herds. In the early years following the log harvest, clear-cut areas provide ample forage that elk need including ferns, shrubs, grasses and young tree shoots. Elk will thrive in these areas as long as there are sufficient stands of mature timber nearby for shelter from weather and their two key predators, cougars and wolves.