According to Parks Canada, 1,300 elk call Jasper National Park home. Elk, also called Wapiti, were re-introduced into the park after hunting had devastated the population. Today, the elk are doing alright. The population is strong enough that some elk are moving out – being transported to other parts of Alberta province.
Visitors spending a few days in the Jasper National Park are likely to stumble upon elk at some point during the trip. Elk are frequently seen along the Athabasca River parallel to Highway 16. The elk may be grazing on grass in herds in the woods or open fields.
This is a picture (view larger) of an elk I spotted in the woods along Pyramid Lake Road, on the way to Patricia Lake and Pyramid Lake. The drive to these lakes is quick from Jasper townsite. Elk, deer and other animals frequent the area and munch on the grass. Drive carefully because sometimes the elk use the road themselves. And be on the look-out for what other wildlife lurks in the woods.
A mature male elk with its huge antlers is a mighty animal. This Jasper traveler’s video shows a few male elk swimming across the water, probably the Athabasca River. The elk then walk onto the shore and greet the travelers. Seeing this in person would be an experience. Keep a distance though because an elk in mating season can be aggressive.
The elk looks very similar to the woodland caribou with the most noticeable difference being color and antler shapes. More pictures of Jasper elk can be found here. The woodland caribou, in contrast, is a declining species as deforestation and other factors impact its more specialized food source, the lichen. Learn more about woodland caribou in Jasper National Park.