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Elk roam Danish nature for first time in millennia

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Elk roam Danish nature for first time in millennia
The gate that has kept the elk confined to a smaller area will be opened on Thursday. Photo: Henning Bagger/Scanpix
09:12 CEST+02:00
For the first time in some 5,000 years, elk will roam free in Denmark.
The five young elk that were imported from Sweden in November will be released into nature on Thursday after spending the past seven months in an enclosed area in the Lille Vildmose marsh in northeastern Jutland. 
 
See also: Elk or moose?
 
Aalborg Municipality officials will open the gate to the elk's enclosure, allowing them to roam freely throughout a 21 sq km nature area. 
 
Hans Henrik Henriksen, an official with Aalborg's nature administration, said he is excited to see how the animals will react to their new freedom. 
 
“They aren't very old and we consider them to still be novices that need to learn to stand on their own feet,” he said in a press release. 
 
“Even though we don't know who the elk will respond to the invitation to go out into [the larger area] I'm very happy that visitors will now finally have the opportunity to experience the elk in the marsh,” he added. 
 
Visitors can drive through the area in their vehicles and should they be lucky enough to see an elk, they are advised to remain in their cars. 
 
“The animals will quite likely get scared and run away if you get out of your care. The elk over time will get used to seeing cars and people along the roads,” Jacob Skriver, who leads the nature fund that owns parts of Lille Vildmose, said. 
 
The elk have not been brought over from Sweden merely to give Danish nature lovers a new experience. Alongside the area's red deer, the elk will serve as natural tree trimmers to keep thousands of birch trees in check. 
 
Although elk have not lived in Denmark for millennia, a few adventurous souls have turned up on Danish soil in recent years. In 2009, an elk swam across the Øresund and in 1999-2000, an elk lived in northern Jutland for about ten months before getting hit by a train. 
 
One can only hope that the newly-released elk will not turn out to be the drunk, angry or overly curious kind. 
 
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