Elks in Vancouver

by Richard Jones

I'm slightly jet-lagged after returning from Vancouver at the weekend. The Rockies were an awesome sight and wildlife abounded everywhere.

Elks (Cervus canadensis) on a lawn in VancouverLike Pippa, I'm going to recount an anecdote from my summer holiday. I'm slightly jet-lagged after returning from Vancouver at the weekend. The Rockies were an awesome sight and wildlife abounded everywhere. One morning my 3-year-old son looked out through the windows of our log cabin (modern not rustic, and complete with TV, 2 bathrooms and air conditioning) and announced "Daddy, there's a pony on the lawn".

The pony turned out to be a large elk, one of a herd of about ten females and young that had wandered into the Alpine Village holiday complex in Jasper National Park. We'd been warned they might appear and the cabin's logbook suggested we chase them off by clapping our hands together if they started eating the herbaceous borders.

To avoid any confusion, these are not the 'elk' of Scandinavia and Siberia, Alces alces, which is called a moose in North America. These 'elk' are Cervus canadensis, also called wapiti, and are a large North American and East Asian relative of the red deer. They were all pretty impressive, certainly the biggest wildlife I've ever seen in any garden. They didn't seem to do too much damage to the annuals, but left plenty of droppings which had to be cleared up before our neighbours could play croquet later in the day.

We then spent a few days in a holiday apartment in Tofino on the Pacific Rim coast of Vancouver Island. As is usual with such lets, the garden was little more than a plot of mown grass, but there was also a Gunnera the size of a caravan to screen the house from the street. I was woken by an alarm somewhere further off up the village at 2am and peered blearily out of the front door. All was still, except for some strange lolloping creature bounding along the empty roadway. Even now I can't quite decide what it was ... a large dog? Or maybe... I still have the hand-written welcome note left by our host on the table just inside the lobby "Richard, be aware that a medium-sized unaggressive bear is in the area. He won't bother you and is just mooching about."

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Gardeners' World Web User 31/08/2008 at 11:54

When we went to Canada in the summer holidays, we were driving in the Rockies when we saw a mother bear with two bear cubs run across the road infont of us. Mum tried to grab the camera but they were too fast. The best thing was there was no one else on the road so we were the only people who saw them.

Gardeners' World Web User 28/11/2011 at 18:37

Hi, I too have just got back from canada (yesterday - the east coast Quebec) my family live there and we go every year to visit.my parents own 19.5 acres of wood land. It is truly amazing with wildlife and plants that I have only seen in books in England. we were told by the local park rangers to be very careful as they have had sightings of a bear in the area. Having a child I was told not to let him roam in the woods on his own and to stay near the house at all times. we were told that it was a black bear but we still had to be very careful as they could bite like a dog and be very nasty. One night when all was still outside we heard a twig snap so we crept to the window to have a peek. well see a bear in the wild is amazing but this bear - gosh the size was another thing. standing next to the wheelie bin and trying to see what was inside we just watcheD as this bear stretched as tall as it could bUT could only just reach the top and with one big push knocked the bin over and went inside. It was a sweetie so small that we all laughed and breathed a sigh of relief, until in the shadow we saw the biggest, blackest bear ever, we all jumped and just froze! the bear came over next to the house and just picked up the other little bear and disappeared into the woods. We all just looked at each other in silence.