Officials warn of possible driver, elk interactions

ONAWAY — State and local officials hope drivers are aware of possible interactions with elk herds this holiday travel season.

Department of Natural Resources Presque Isle Officer John Sklba said there have been three elk killed after they were hit by a car this season.

“Right now their travel is near the corridor on M-33 south of Third Street, between Atlanta and Onaway,” he said.

He said the herd has about 17 animals with a few small calves and six bulls.

“A calf is the size of a deer. A mature animal is about 700 pounds easy,” he said. “Generally if a vehicle hits an elk it will total a vehicle. The most recent pickup that hit cow his hood came up and his brakes went out. It was a huge safety concern.”

He said elk are herd animals and travel in big groups, compared to deer which can be found in small groups.

Even though their stature and herd size is different than deer, elk travel around the same times: dawn and dusk.

Presque Isle County Sheriff Bob Paschke said their office has dealt with one elk car accident this year. He said drivers should be aware of what they could encounter.

“Mornings and evenings, that’s when we get our accident calls for deer. I’m no hunter I don’t know how they move. I think they’re just going to the food. People should just slow down during those times,” he said.

Paschke said due to the herd, the Michigan Department of Transportation will put signs up for driver awareness.

MDOT North Region Communications Representative James Lake said MDOT has a standard elk crossing sign it intends to put in that direction to warn motorists.

Jordan Spence can be reached via email at jspence@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5687.