Elk dies of infected gunshot wound in Sequim pasture

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

SEQUIM –– An elk that died in a Happy Valley pasture apparently had an infection from a gunshot wound suffered during one of this winter’s hunts to thin the Dungeness herd, state Fish and Wildlife agents said.

Agents hauled the dead five-point bull elk from Paul Warner’s pasture Monday morning.

Officer Bryan Davidson with the Department of Fish and Wildlife reported that the elk had a festered wound “consistent with a gunshot” on its right foreleg.

The 5- or 6-year-old elk had been resting overnight for the past couple of weeks in Warner’s pasture, Davidson said, and limping out to eat during the day.

He said agents had been watching the elk for the past month or so to see if his condition would improve or if he would need to be euthanized.

“He wasn’t moving around really well, but he was still up and he was still eating,” Davidson said.

“Since he was up and able to walk and able to eat, then we thought he might bet better.”

He didn’t, and Davidson retrieved his carcass Monday.

“It’s pretty sad,” neighbor Patrick Slattery said.

“I know these hunts are meant to help out, and I understand it’s pretty bad for the farmers down there.

“But it was still pretty sad to look out and see this animal hurt like this.”

Since there was concern the abscess might have infected the rest of the elk’s body, Davidson determined that the meat was not fit for humans.

Davidson said agents with Fish and Wildlife “recycled him into the wilderness.”

The elk was the 14th to die during the state’s special elk culling season, which began in October and wraps at the end of March.

Sequim’s trademark elk herd now numbers 39, with 27 cows and calves in the Dungeness Valley and 12 bulls in Palo Alto foothills south of U.S. Highway 101.

This year’s hunt focused on males, with the hunt having taken seven bulls, six juvenile “spikes” and one male.

Officials earlier this year said males were targeted as a management measure.

Hunts over the past several years focused on the cows and calves that have spent most of the past 10 to 15 years in farm fields north of Sequim.

The herd’s damage to field crops in the Dungeness Valley has worsened over that time, leading wildlife officials to employ techniques to manage the size of the herd.

Prior to that, the herd spent most of the year in the Olympic Mountain foothills south of Sequim.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 04. 2014 6:47PM
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