UPDATE — Be cautious: Sequim elk milling near Highway 101
Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News
The Dungeness herd of Roosevelt elk relaxes Tuesday in Fred and Loretta Grant’s field off Sequim Bay Road just east of Sequim. Drivers are being advised to keep a lookout for the elk trying to cross U.S. Highway 101, which is behind the Holiday Inn Express, pictured in the background.
By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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Update on Sequim Elk Herd - They are approx. 400 yards from Hwy 101 in a field east of Keeler Road.
At daybreak this morning the Sequim elk were still on the north side of U.S. 101. They spent the night in a field immediately north of the highway, east of Keeler Road. At 5:00 AM they were about 400 yards from the highway.
The elk usually don't try to cross the highway here, but they're only about one-half mile from their favorite crossing points east of Whitefeather Way.
So motorists should be alert as they pass through that area.
Wildlife Program Coordinator
Point No Point Treaty Council
7999 NE Salish Lane
Kingston, WA 98346
OUR PREVIOUS STORY
By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
SEQUIM –– Although their transmitters triggered U.S. Highway 101 warning signs through Wednesday, the Dungeness herd of Roosevelt elk stayed north of the highway through the early afternoon, grazing on farm ground.
The Clallam County Sheriff's Office alerted drivers Tuesday to watch for elk as they grazed in a hayfield east of Sequim near the Holiday Inn Express.
Some of the elk cows have radio transmitters on their collars that trigger the warning lights on the highway.
The herd was spotted lounging in a field east of the Holiday Inn on Wednesday morning, according to Tim Cullinan, wildlife coordinator for the Point No Point Treaty Council,
He said they probably would not cross the highway from their current resting spot.
“They'd have to cross Washington Street to get to the highway,” he said.
“Unless somebody really spooks them, they probably won't cross.”
Danger to drivers lies in the chance the herd moves east toward Sequim Bay and then decides to cross the road in the Whitefeather Way area.
“They pop out of the forest there, and they're on the road before you can even see them,” Cullinan said.
Cows weigh between 700 and 800 pounds, and mature bull elk — which usually travel in separate herds from the cows — can weigh up to 1,000 pounds.
A car that hits an elk at a speed high enough to kill the animal often is destroyed, Cullinan has said.
Cullinan said the 28 cows and calves in the herd are acting unusually for this time of year.
Normally, they stay north of the highway in the winter to forage in hayfields. Crossings typically occur in the summer months, when the herd heads to the Olympic foothills.
“They just seem to be moving around at random right now,” said Cullinan, who earlier thought the herd might be having difficulty finding food.
“I'm still trying to figure out what's motivating them this winter.”
Even a hunt earlier this year had little impact on their movement, he said.
“Now, with nobody hunting them, they just get up and move,” he said.
The 10 or so Dungeness elk males are hanging out in the Happy Valley area south of the highway, Cullinan said, likely feasting on cattle pasture.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: January 24. 2013 8:38AM