The search terms someone punched into Google and which led to our website this afternoon were so unusual, and unusually specific, that I figured I’d better look into them.
Two phone calls later and, yep, it’s true, there’s been a “bull elk sighted on whidbey island.”
“Been there ten days,” says WDFW district wildlife biologist Ruth Milner. “Probably swam over.”
No, not across the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca from Sequim, but Skagit Bay, just to the east.
Milner says a bull was spotted on Fir Island, at the mouth of the Skagit prior to the sightings on the island.
“We’re thinking it’s going to swim back when it figures out it’s by itself,” she says.
Then again, maybe not. The 4×5 just may stay put on Whidbey, where there is no hunting season for elk.
There is, however, for blacktails, and some folks in the know (that would be you guys, Wiebe family of Gold Bar) do quite well.
The long, skinny 168-square-mile island — the second largest in the Lower 48 — features large swaths of farmlands and forests, but also many residential and vacation homes. While there are some elk elsewhere in Milner’s beat, lord only knows how long they’ve been gone from Whidbey.
(Ten minutes after Colonel Isaac Ebey set foot on the island in 1851? A couple days before local tribes had to switch to a fish ‘n chips diet? The moment The Great Glacier shoved them into the cold waters of Po Bar during the last ice age?).
While the islands in northern Puget Sound, including the San Juans, are lousy with deer, other big game animals showing up in unusual locations of late include blacktails on Mercer Island.
At this point the Whidbey bull, reported to be in the Strawberry Point area east of Oak Harbor, isn’t bothering folks, Milner says.
A photo on Hunting-Washington shows the big fella deep in some brush, presumably feeding.