Son of Ernie the elk in Garden City?

Idaho Fish and Game says a Garden City resident called about an elk in a vacant lot at 42nd and Adams streets on Thursday, July 24.

The elk was foraging in the vacant lot, and Fish and Game Conservation Officer Bill London said the bull elk appeared to be stressed. He also said people were getting too close to the elk; some even trying to take “selfies” with it.

The young bull fled through the Garden City neighborhood and crossed Veteran’s Parkway, a busy thoroughfare.

“When people get this close to a wild animal, the stress not only creates potential harm to the animal and to the public,” London said “the increased adrenaline can also make it difficult to tranquilize an animal.”

Garden City Police kept people away, and the elk eventually bedded down, which allowed F&G veterinarian Mark Drew to tranquilize it. F&G personnel loaded the elk into a horse trailer and released it north of Horseshoe Bend.

It's probably a stretch to say it's the son of Ernie the elk, a mature bull elk who felt at home among a herd of cattle in East Boise several years ago. He became a fixture and a local celebrity among the residents and Greenbelt users who watched him graze and bed down among cattle in a pasture near Warm Springs Avenue.

Ernie was later shot in the Foothills during hunting season under legal but dubious circumstances.

The latest elk escapade comes on the heels of two beavers, a mother and a kit, recently becoming surprise visitors at the Eagle WinCo Foods. They were also removed and release back into the wild in a less urban environment near Idaho City.

Earlier this year, a young moose was hanging out in East Boise, and it was darted and removed. Mountain lion sightings in town are common. That's not to mention the Treasure Valley's urban deer herd, and countless raccoons, skunks, coyotes, foxes and other critters that have decided they like living in the city and suburbs.

Wildlife in the city can create hazards, but they are also a great asset that reminds us that wildlife habitat is where you find it, and we should continue making even our capitol city as wildlife friendly as possible. 

It's a tricky issue, and I know this sends a mixed message. For example, feeding wildlife and habituating wild animals to humans tends to end bad for the animals. But in many cases, wildlife and people can coexist, which improves the quality of life for all of us, and keeps us connected to the natural world.