Around my neck of the woods, I’ve known several people who have collided with a deer running across the road, sadly ending the deer’s life and totaling the car as well. It’s extremely common in South Carolina and in many other parts of the country after the sun goes down… you just come to expect it.
However, it’s mind boggling to me that there are parts of the country where people actually have to look out for creatures like bison and elk crossing the road. And Illinois is not usually one of them.
With that being said, one bull elk met a tragic fate at the hands of a semi truck in Illinois.
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel,Black River State Forest wildlife officials had been tracking a bull elk, dubbed bull elk no. 357, who wandered pretty far from the herd in search of a mate. Wisconsin doesn’t have a very large elk population, but due to conservation efforts, the state now has a population large enough to warrant an elk season, although only a handful of tags are drawn each year. You can generally find them in the state’s central and western forest regions such as Black Rover State Forest and Clam Lake area.
Bull 357 made the massive trek from the state forest down near Madison, and on into the state of Illinois. However, the bull’s long journey came to a tragic end after he was struck by a semi-truck just southwest of Chicago, near Joliet, Illinois.
Eric Lobner, director of the Department of Natural Resources wildlife management program, told the outlet that the creature was identified by a tag bearing a number. The elk seemed to be heading for Indiana, and had been spotted on a few Illinois residents’ trail cameras, last being seen alive in Newark, Illinois.
The elk began its journey east through the woods to Marathon County, stayed in Wausau for a bit, detoured up to Taylor County, and was heading south for the Wisconsin Rapids and Columbia County, marking hundreds of miles traveled.
Lobner said that the instance wasn’t too out of the ordinary, especially during breeding season:
“He got himself kind of a little bit far from the rest of the herd, and most likely he just was continuing to search for other (elk) and didn’t know which direction to go to get himself back to where the herd was.
It’s kind of interesting in a way because I was looking at a map and I was starting to question, was it closer to Kentucky, which is where this animal’s genetics originally came from? But I’m certain there was no genetic pull that would have taken him in that direction.”
Lobner added that typically when bulls wander like this, they ultimately end up back home, but I guess we’ll never find out if this creature would’ve been able to make the long trek back home.
“This is a disappointing day in a way, because he certainly did have a celebrity status.”