By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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Tim Cullinan, wildlife program coordinator with the Point No Point Treaty Council, said the 27-elk herd crossed the highway in the early morning hours Saturday.
Cullinan, who monitors the herd by radio transmitters collared around several of the animals, said Monday the animals were grazing in the foothills.
The herd of cows, calves and yearlings typically crosses the highway to go south for the summer months to take refuge in the cooler climate and shade of the foothills, Cullinana said.
A herd of 12 bulls usually stays in Happy Valley during the winter, moving north to the valley to mate in the summer, he added.
This year's crossing was a little later than usual, Cullinan said.
Last year, the herd migrated in the middle of April. In 2011, they moved south on April 30.
The elk moved near the highway several times this spring, which prompted the Clallam County Sheriff's Office to issue several advisories to drivers to be wary of the animals on the roadway.
The elk herd has wintered north of Highway 101, foraging in farm fields, for the past decade or so.
After spending summers in the hills, they typically return to the Dungeness Valley to mate in August, Cullinan said.
Much of the herd's Dungness Valley food supply was recently plowed under for spring plantings.
Cullinan was unsure when they might return but noted that the herd crossed north for the valley by the end of May last year.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.