SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — A herd of determined that elk had resolutely set up camp at the mouth of Parleys Canyon multiple times over the winter – specifically at the intersections I-80 and I-215 at the end of Foothill Drive – have found their way back to their favorite grassy medians alongside eastern Salt Lake County's busiest highways just over a week after they were relocated.
Officials with the Division of Wildlife Resources confirmed to 2News that approximately 40 elk — from a herd of around 80 — migrated back down the canyon, with half on the grounds of a nearby golf course. They said there are no current plans to move the elk, but they will be discussing what to do once it stops snowing.
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Over the winter, multiple elk have been killed and just as many vehicles have been severely damaged due to the wildlife bounding into traffic driving in excess of the speed limit. The Utah Department of Transportation had to place multiple signs along the roadways warning of the uptick in elk, and eventually, the state had to take more drastic measures.
On March 19, UDOT closed the highways while a team from the Division of Wildlife Resources executed a mission to herd the creatures back to the mountains.
On foot, the DWR crew guided the elk up into the mountains and a Utah Department of Public Safety helicopter was deployed to nudge them further up the mountain.
It's the second time authorities have had to literally chase the elk back into the canyon. The first time, there was not a helicopter involved to encourage the animals to move upward. It wasn't long before the herd decided it would return, though.
MORE: UDOT announces I-80, I-84 speed limit decrease due to increase of elk collisions
Monday morning, 2News began receiving images and videos from viewers to kutv.com/chimein of the familiar sight of dozens of grazing animals just feet away from 75-mile-per-hour traffic.
Drivers are urged to proceed with caution near Foothill Drive, Wasatch Drive, I-80 and I-215 at the northeastern bend amid the reports.