A herd of elk moved to northwestern Ontario from Alberta in 1999 are doing so well, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) officials are planning to bring in more. The first group of elk was released near Cameron Lake, south of Sioux Narrows in January of 1999. They have fared extremely well in their new habitat. Aerial radio tracking of the animals has made it possible to keep tabs on the released animals.
The first 48 elk were moved to the Lake of the Woods area of Northwestern Ontario from Elk Island National Park in Alberta. Long range plans call for elk herd in the Lake of the Woods area to grow to between 100 and 200 animals over a period of time.
Mike Dawe, a MNR employee, said approximately 30 elk have established home ranges in the immediate vicinity of the release site. He also indicated that approximately 15 animals have grouped together further away from the pen but still within about 30 kilometres of the original release site. Other elk have scattered further afield from the release site, or may have died since the release. The mortality rate of the animals, however, has been lower than originally been expected.
Natural reproduction has added to the number of elk. Approximately eight calves born in the spring of 2000 were still alive at the end of the year.
Approximately 50 more elk will be released in January, 2000, into the same holding pen used for the first elk shipment. The elk will be held in the pen for a minimum of two weeks before being released into the wild.