4 elk die after herd raced along Utah freeway, officials say. Two were hit by drivers

Utah Department of Transportation

Four elk died after a large group was caught on camera racing along a Utah freeway.

A herd of about 60 to 70 elk was spotted on Wednesday, Feb. 1, near the Intestate 80 and Interstate 215 interchange in Salt Lake City, Faith Heaton Jolley, a spokesperson for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said on Twitter.

About 20 to 30 of these elk left the Salt Lake Country Club golf course area and moved near the freeways, Jolley said.

A video of the animals show them dashing along the freeway. The animals slowed drivers and closed lanes until wildlife officials could herd them to safety.

Two elk were fatally struck by vehicles. Biologists also had to euthanize two other animals because they were injured, Jolley said.

Biologists can’t confirm whether the two injured elk were hit by vehicles, she told McClatchy News.

The meat from these animals will be donated to game meat donation program, Jolley said, so it won’t be wasted.

Biologists were able to move the elk away from the roads after about 30 minutes.

Elk and other larger animals typically migrate to lower elevations when it snows because they are looking for food, Jolley said.

“Due to the significant snowfall this winter, we are seeing an increase in the number of big game animals migrating into cities,” she said.

The elk are skittish, so wildlife officials are trying to keep them at the golf course because they are unable to herd them back to the mountains.

They hope the elk will return to the mountains when the weather warms next week, Jolley said.

“We ask for tolerance and patience from local residents and drivers in the area while the elk are here,” Jolley said.

On Jan. 26, about 60 elk sprinted along the same area in Salt Lake City, McClatchy News reported. Wildlife officials had to herd them back to the mountains, too.

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