Some residents living near the 12 hole of TPC Snoqualmie Ridge noticed something new last week… a wildlife trap. According to Snoqualmie Police and Snoqualmie Valley Elk Management, the trap was set up to collar and study the local elk population.
According to Harold Erland of the Upper Snoqualmie Valley Elk Management Group, the upper Valley is home to about 450 elk, which are part of the North Rainer elk herd – one of 10 Washington herds monitored by the Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The upper Valley herd is composed of about nine elk groups, including the large Meadowbrook group and a smaller group that roams near Dirtfish Rally School and often crosses the Snoqualmie River, migrates up the wooded area near Snoqualmie Falls and onto the TPC Snoqualmie Ridge Golf Course.
Erland said Snoqualmie Valley Elk Management was hoping the TPC traps would help his group temporarily capture and collar a few more herd members, as 5 of their collared elk were lost recently – 4 to hunting and 1 to a cougar. They’d like to have about 10% of the herd collared and currently they’re below that threshold.
The monitored herd members allow the Elk Management Group to track, study and monitor the local elk population using GPS, which can ultimately influence area hunting regulations and help researchers understand migration patterns.
If an elk does enter the trap, the collaring and information gathering (teeth observation to determine age, drawing bodily fluid samples, hoof check) process takes only about 8 minutes.
Erland said they were optimistic the work at TPC Snoqualmie Ridge would help increase the number of collared elk, but unfortunately, they haven’t had much luck at the site. The traps will probably be moved to a new location in the coming week.
He thinks some of the bad luck stems from the golf course now using forms of elk repellant, as a few years ago elk were causing a lot of damage to the 12th hole.
One neighbor who noticed the trap also admitted to going near it to free a small deer who got stuck, knowing the trap was for elk and worried the scared deer would be stuck all night. Erland said it’s better that residents not go near their research traps.
As far as knowing all there is to know about the Snoqualmie Valley elk herd, Harold Erland is your guy. He provided answers to some elk questions from the past couple months.
1) Is the ‘Mop Head’ elk still around? Harold says he is and has been spotted multiple times. The mop is nearly gone from his antlers. It probably got stuck in a simply weird accident last summer.
2) How did the elk die near the Mount Si Freshman campus a couple of months back? Many residents noticed the deceased elk near SR 202. That elk was not hunted. Harold said it was struck by a vehicle and then afterward nature took its course. Eventually the dead elk was moved to the edge of Meadowbrook as it was distracting drivers.
Harold also said the majority of local elk who are struck and killed by vehicles are younger than other herd members – by about two years. He says that most likely means as the as the elk age, they learn more safely how cross the busy road.
But he said the elk herd doesn’t actually like to cross, preferring to stay in the open pasture area of Meadowbrook Farm. So if you do see them crossing… it isn’t a normal everyday thing in the elk world… so enjoy the site.
For more information on the upper Snoqualmie Valley elk herd visit www.snoqualmievalleyelk.org