There is not suppose to be a wild elk [or wapiti (Cervus canadensis)] population in the state of Ohio*.
Of course, don’t tell that to the person that hit one the other day. After that one was killed, a local resident saw another one. But officials are not willing to confirm elk #2. Yet.
An elk struck and killed by a car near Lisbon, Ohio, on Thursday night, October 8th, is leaving wildlife officials scratching their heads.
District Wildlife Officer Scott Angelo said the Ohio Department of Agriculture in Reynoldsburg is testing the body of the small bull elk, which was struck and killed by a vehicle Thursday night on state Route 45 south of the village, for Chronic Wasting Disease.
“All we’re doing is just taking precautions. We want to make sure that we’re actively monitoring it,” he explained.
He noted Ohio does not have a wild elk population, meaning the elk either escaped from an enclosure prior to being hit or it wandered in from a neighboring state, such as Pennsylvania, which has an active elk population. Ohio has not had a wild elk population for more than 100 years. The department believes the elk was raised domestically and local department leaders are hoping the owner claims it to help them in their investigation.
“This is something that happens very, very rarely,” he said of an elk sighting in the county.
The elk struck was about 250 pounds, only a little larger than a large whitetail deer, Angelo noted. Adult bull elk tend to weigh between 600 and 700 pounds.
A Lisbon resident who lives in the area of state Routes 11 and 154 had reported seeing an elk in his yard prior to the accident. He called the department Friday, October 9th, to report having seen another elk in the yard.
Considering that a vehicle hit an elk not far from the resident’s home the same evening as the call, Angelo believes the resident is able to successfully identify an elk, but the department is not yet confirming the sighting. The second sighting occurred after the vehicle struck the elk, meaning if both sighting were correct, at least two elk have been loose in the area.
“We’re treating it as a reliable source, but we’re not confirming it yet,” the official stated.
He did not have the source’s name available Friday evening, October 9th.
It is legal to raise elk in Ohio and owners do not need a permit to keep them, only to transport them across the state border. However, Angelo noted owners of elk must take measures to keep them in their enclosures, are not permitted to release them into the wild and are required to contact the Ohio Department of Natural Resources within 24 hours of an elk escape, according to The Review of East Liverpool, Ohio.
*The Rocky Mountain elk subspecies has been reintroduced by hunter-conservation organizations in the Appalachian region of the eastern U.S., where the now extinct Eastern elk once lived. After elk were reintroduced in the states of Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee, they migrated into the neighboring states of Virginia and West Virginia, and have established permanent populations there. Elk have also been reintroduced to a number of other states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. But none are specifically known for Ohio. There is, reportedly, a cryptid population in New Zealand.
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