Elk reintroduced to Zion 100 Years Ago

By the end of the 1800's, elk had been hunted to extinction from Zion National Park. In 1912, we began importing them from Yellowstone.
Elk lying in the grass

Herds of magnificent elk and bighorn sheep roamed the state when European settlers arrived, but hunters then knew what hunters today know: they are excellent source of food. The same species as the European red deer, they look dramatically different. Within 50 years, they were almost gone and by 1898 Utah instituted closed hunting seasons in order to protect those that were left.

From 1912 to 1925, the state imported elk from other states, including herds from Yellowstone Park. The state continues to monitor the herds and use its own herds to establish populations in other regions throughout the state, bringing them back to southern Utah in the late 1970s and 1980s.

Shawnee called them wapiti, or white rump/deer. Utah's State Animal, the wapiti bear one offspring in late spring, congregating in large nurseries of several hundred cows and calves. Small bands of bulls may also be seen roaming together throughout the summer.

In late September, the bulls split apart to begin gathering their harems. It isn't uncommon to hear the loud bugle of bulls who will battle to defend their harem against encroachers. By winter, the bulls and harems have split apart and bulls will either roam alone or regroup with other small herds of bulls.

They can live in a wide variety of habitats, but must have sources of drinking water nearby and can roam over wide ranges.


Zion canyon

Zion National Park Opens After Government Shutdown

Thanks to funding from the state, Zion National Park and its fellow Utah national parks opened up Oct. 12. Now that the government shutdown has ended though, the state will retain whatever is left from the $1.67 million it had allocated to keep Zion up through Oct. 21.


Getting Around Zion Park

How to get around Zion National Park by specific modes of transportation, including what is permitted and what is prohibited.