The Elk Farm

I noticed it at an overlook from the sandstone cliffs on the south side of the highway. It looked like a series of corrals, with 3 square ponds, surrounded by a fence. Curious as to what it was, I rode down to Anthracite to check it out. A couple of buildings, lots of fencing, and empty ponds. It wasn't until last week that I found out what it is. I went tromping down there with snowshoes in foot deep snow, and again was mystified by the fencing. It almost looked like some sort of training facility. One small building stood out, so I went around back and explored the inside. On the wall was a sign which read "1999/2000 Banff Elk Farm." An elk farm? And only 20 years ago?

Of course, it's long since been used as an elk farm. A makeshift target range is setup, along with guidelines posted inside the building with instructions for those park employees who needed some practice shooting .22 caliber rifles. But now this has made me wonder why the Elk farm was setup. Were they trying to finish the Elk herd for slaughter? I understand that parks had to control the Elk population in the past, and they had culled up to 200 Elk a year and given the carcasses to the Stoney Nation. Or were they trying to actually raise more Elk? It didn't look like a breeding facility--more like a place where they administered a herd of Elk and tried keeping them healthy. The sign showed dosages administered to elk of different sizes.

I'm sure this elk farm was someone's good idea--trying to solve a perceived problem with the Elk population, or make good use of the culled herd. So, either the problem went away, or this elk farm didn't accomplish the goals set out by whoever was trying to solve the original problem. So many unanswered questions.

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