Lower Mainland Roosevelt Elk Recovery Project


In British Columbia, Roosevelt elk (Cervus elaphus roosevelti) are blue listed (vulnerable, of special concern). By 1900, nearly all Roosevelt elk were extirpated from BC’s southern mainland  except of one small population near Phillips Arm. In order to restore populations, Roosevelt elk were relocated from Vancouver Island to the Sechelt Peninsula in 1987 and 1993.

The Lower Mainland Roosevelt Elk Recovery Project (LMRERP) was established in 2000 due to elk confrontations along the urban fringe of the Sunshine Coast and the wish to re-establish Roosevelt elk in the Lower Mainland, which once was a prosperous habitat for the species.


Roosevelt elk favor productive wet habitats that supply sufficient moist forage such as wetlands or meadows. Hydroelectric developments in the Lower Mainland Region flooded several upland and lowland habitats and caused a loss of coniferous and deciduous forests in valley bottoms.

That was the reason why the LMRERP was launched in different areas in the Lower Mainland to restore the extirpated species.

Study Area, Methods and Materials

The study area consists of both trapping and release locations, where three trappings and releases were implemented.

The first trapping took place at a permanent wooden elk trap in Pender Harbour on the Sechelt Peninsula in January 2007. Eleven elk were caught, involving five female adults, two yearling females, three calves and one adult male. Two of the dominant cow elk were tagged with radio collars to facilitate future monitoring of the herd. The elk were released at the bridge over Winslow Creek on the Stave Lake Forest Service Road.

The second baiting occurred in March 2007 in the Kleindale area near Ruby Lake on the Sechelt Peninsula. This time, a portable chain link trap was used; eight elk were trapped, including four female adults, three calves and one yearling. Again, two dominant cows were marked with collars. The release took place at the same location as the first trapping.

In order to facilitate reproduction of the released elk, a further adult bull elk was trapped in the Halfmoon Bay on the Sechelt Peninsula in February 2008, using a chain link corral trap similar to the one that was used in the second baiting. The bull was tranquilized to enable the relocation from the trap into the stock truck, as its antlers were too large for the elk to enter the truck itself. An ear tag was applied and a blood sample was taken. This time, the bull was released at Welcome Point at the North East end of Stave lake due to a vast amount of snow on the Stave Lake Forest Service Road.

Discussion and Implications

The purpose of the project was to establish healthy, viable populations of the blue-listed Roosevelt elk in their historic range in the Lower Mainland Region as they are a crucial part of the ecosystem’s biodiversity. Their re-establishment benefits local First Nations and both resident and non-resident hunters.

As it takes about 5-10 years for a population of elk to become viable, a further expressive monitoring has not been implemented yet.

  • Source Ministry of Environment. June 2008. Lower Mainland Roosevelt Elk Recovery Project (LMRERP): Stave Lake Watershed Release (2007 – 2008). Available at : https://nanopdf.com/download/lower-mainland-roosevelt-elk-recovery-project-lmrerp-stave-lake-watershed-releas_pdf [Accessed 03/2021].