British Columbia invites input on population management plan for forest- and grassland-dwelling elk in Cariboo region, aimed at balancing traditional needs of First Nations with broad range of ecological, economic and social considerations

WILLIAMS LAKE, British Columbia , May 5, 2014 (press release) – To help develop a proposed Elk Management Plan for the Cariboo Region, members of the public, First Nations and natural resource stakeholders are invited to submit their feedback on a bulletin summarizing elk ecology, population status and management options.

Once the dominant large ungulate species in Cariboo-Chilcotin ecosystems, the elk population declined precipitously about 125 years ago. However, a natural unassisted recovery is underway that could highlight opportunities to rebuild economic and traditional uses of elk.

The Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, in collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, is gathering ideas and evaluations on proposed elk management strategies that will balance conservation needs with a broad range of ecological, economic and social considerations.

An increased elk population may cause human-elk conflicts, including crop degradation, potential aggressive encounters, and risk of elk-vehicle collisions. A regional elk management plan will balance the traditional needs of First Nations with the economic and social interests of local communities and stakeholders, while protecting and managing wildlife resources.

Members of the public are invited to review the proposed elk objectives and management options, as set out in the bulletin, and provide their comments to ministry staff. Their feedback will be used to inform further consultations with stakeholders in early fall 2014.

Copies of the Basic Elk Ecology and Population Status bulletin are available at: or from the Cariboo Region, Cariboo-Chilcotin District office. Feedback can be submitted by email to or by ground mail to:

Harry D. Jennings
Cariboo Region, Cariboo-Chilcotin District
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations
200 - 640 Borland St., Williams Lake, B.C. V2G 4T1

Quick Facts:

  • Historically, elk ranged across much of the grasslands and forests of the Cariboo Region from the Fraser River west to Choelquiot Lake and Anahim Lake, south to the Chilcotin River and Meldrum Creek areas, and east to Canim Lake and Mahood Lake.
  • First Nations oral history and reports from early explorers indicate the presence of elk in the 1800s and 1900s, while archaeological evidence supports the presence of elk as far back as 500 BC.
  • Although primarily a grazing species, elk eat a wide variety of plants, shrubs and trees. Their adaptable diet enables them to occupy a range of habitats, including forested stands, grasslands and mountainous alpine and sub-alpine areas.
  • As in other parts of the province, elk populations in the Cariboo-Chilcotin declined from the mid-1800s through the mid-1900s. However, over the past 15 years, that population has increased to over 300, with the majority of these elk now located in the Quesnel area.

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