Alaska Highway infested with tick free elk

After five months in captivity the Takhini elk herd has returned to its natural habitat — the Alaska Highway.

After five months in captivity the Takhini elk herd has returned to its natural habitat — the Alaska Highway.

“The elk are back on the highway and there’s 50 more of them out there,” said Environment spokesperson Dennis Senger.

“So if you’re going to be driving into this area be alert and slow down.”

The elk have congregated along the Alaska Highway northwest of Whitehorse, between the Takhini River and Kusawa Lake.

If you’re driving to Haines Junction over the coming long weekend, chances are you’ll see some elk, particularly at night.

About 120 elk from the Takhini herd were captured in March to deal with a winter tick infestation.

The animals were held in captivity until last week when they were released back into the wild.

The ticks, which naturally dropped off the elk over the spring and summer to lay eggs, remained behind in the fenced-off enclosure.

“If the elk had gone somewhere else that would have been really nice,” said Senger.

“But for now the highway is their main area that they go back and forth along.”

The safety and plentiful food provided in captivity has meant that as many as 50 healthy calves have been added to the herd.

“Some of the younger ones may not be used to traffic; they may all of a sudden dash across the highway and — kaboom,” said Senger.

“The main message is slow down until you’re past those animals.” (Chris Oke)