COULTERVILLE, Ill – There is a traveling elk on the loose who has been spotted near Springfield, Illinois. The timing couldn’t be better—you can convince your children that it’s one of Santa’s reindeer now that it’s here—but if you spot it, you should notify the game warden in your county immediately.
According to Bond County game warden William Wichern, the elk’s journey began near Coulterville, south of I-64. The latest report places it near Sangchris Lake in Springfield, Illinois.
Hunters sent numerous pictures captured by deer cameras to the authorities. Both local and Illinois state police expressed concern when the elk crossed I-64 and I-70.
The elk has since moved into a more rural area, away from densely populated regions, minimizing the likelihood of causing harm. The state police were worried about potential collisions on highways or interstates and the resulting damage.
Wichern said, “But we’ve asked that if you see it, report it to us so we can keep track of it. We’ve had some people raise elk in our area, and we’ve notified them about the lost elk.”
The plan is to capture the elk. Wichern believes it may have been brought in from Missouri or another state, and the individual who purchased it for livestock couldn’t adequately contain the animal, leading to its escape.
“This has happened in the past: someone has gone and bought this elk or maybe a calf, and they put it in a fence that wasn’t properly designed and got out,” said Wichern. “We still haven’t been able to track down who originally bought it.”
Wichern advises against shooting the elk even though it is not technically a wild animal and therefore not protected by the Department of Natural Resources. Instead, if spotted, contact the local game warden or the DNR department.