Elk at The Rim Golf Club

Although this Monster Elk pic was taken at the Fairmont Banff Springs,
we had to show just how big these guys can get!
I wanted to do a special post on our current status about Elk on our property because it has been an issue for some time. The three years that I have been on property I have not seen such a problem. We have been pretty successful in keeping the Elk off of the property. We have had problems with breaks in our perimeter fence that has allowed access to many herds of Elk. 

In the past it has been manageable to sustain a break have some Elk access the property for a few days. We would quickly fix the fence and bring the cowboys out to escort the guests off of the property. Little damage if any would happen. Only a few times over my tenure did we have such an issue.

The last few months have been quite interesting with the timing of breaks in the fence. It seemed as though everytime we would go to fix the fence the next few days we would sustain another break from a storm or one of the gates on the Northwest side of the property would get damage. For a while it was like a pattern we couldn't shake. We had a few instances where we would find Elk activity on the course, check the entire fence and make sure it was secure, bring out the cowboys who would be successful in leading the Elk off the property just to have another intrusion a few days later from a storm. It became very frustrating to feel as though you have solved the problem just to get knocked back down with more damage.

Recently we have been having quite a bit of trouble with our gates on the Northwest part of the property. One gate is located just North of the main entrance and the other gate is located off of the 260, West of our maintenance tunnel. We have had multiple breaks with what looked like Elk walking right through the gate, ripping boards off as they go.

Lane has been our local Elk expert. Over the years he has been able to track Elk and figure out which way they are traveling. He knows the common places Elk bed down and can help guide the cowboys to the location of the Elk. His experience at our property is invaluable and this is one of many ways his knowledge has helped us.

With the many problems we have been having with the gates, Lane went to the drawing board trying to figure out how we can keep the Elk off of the property. He came up with a genius idea to make a removeable gate that mimics a section of the fence. His conception was to make the boards easily removable by sliding them through metal holders at each end like an old barn door lock would. The finished product looks exactly like the fence and cannot be noticed unless you are right next to it.

Why does this work you ask? The gates stand out from a regular section of fence because of their up right posture. The regular fence is angled to make an optical illusion for Elk making them think they cannot clear the fence because it looks as though it is such a long jump. In reality they can jump the fence, which they have proved from the inside to the outside, since the optical illusion is not acheived from the inside. The Elk started to figure out that the gates were the weak part in our four mile fence. The way it looked is that the Elk were wallking up to the gates and nudging it enough to push boards off of the support poles. Boards screwed in with 4" screws were easily pushed aside by the Elk. The gates were no match for the 600 to 800 lb. Elk.

The modifications have been done to the to Northwestern gates and we have had great success. Elk have wallked up to it from both sides and it looks as though they have nudged it from the reminants of Elk hair stuck to the boards and on the ground next to the fence. The strength of these new gate sections are matched to any other section of the fence and also regain the optical illusion that has made the fence so successful. Now that the fence is secure, we are ready to invite the cowboys out for another tour of the course to lead the remaining Elk off the property. We have sustained damage on the course from the repetitive breaks and the interesting gate challenges. We are confident that this new design that Lane has realized will keep the perimeter secure well into the future.

If you have any questions or comments please feel free to contact me. Justin C. Ruiz, CGCS justinr@therimgolfclub.org