From Whence Cometh The Mystery Elk?

Posted by: Loren Coleman on October 12th, 2009

There is not suppose to be a wild elk [or wapiti (Cervus canadensis)] population in the state of Ohio*.

Of course, don’t tell that to the person that hit one the other day. After that one was killed, a local resident saw another one. But officials are not willing to confirm elk #2. Yet.

An elk struck and killed by a car near Lisbon, Ohio, on Thursday night, October 8th, is leaving wildlife officials scratching their heads.

District Wildlife Officer Scott Angelo said the Ohio Department of Agriculture in Reynoldsburg is testing the body of the small bull elk, which was struck and killed by a vehicle Thursday night on state Route 45 south of the village, for Chronic Wasting Disease.

“All we’re doing is just taking precautions. We want to make sure that we’re actively monitoring it,” he explained.

He noted Ohio does not have a wild elk population, meaning the elk either escaped from an enclosure prior to being hit or it wandered in from a neighboring state, such as Pennsylvania, which has an active elk population. Ohio has not had a wild elk population for more than 100 years. The department believes the elk was raised domestically and local department leaders are hoping the owner claims it to help them in their investigation.

“This is something that happens very, very rarely,” he said of an elk sighting in the county.

The elk struck was about 250 pounds, only a little larger than a large whitetail deer, Angelo noted. Adult bull elk tend to weigh between 600 and 700 pounds.

A Lisbon resident who lives in the area of state Routes 11 and 154 had reported seeing an elk in his yard prior to the accident. He called the department Friday, October 9th, to report having seen another elk in the yard.

Considering that a vehicle hit an elk not far from the resident’s home the same evening as the call, Angelo believes the resident is able to successfully identify an elk, but the department is not yet confirming the sighting. The second sighting occurred after the vehicle struck the elk, meaning if both sighting were correct, at least two elk have been loose in the area.

“We’re treating it as a reliable source, but we’re not confirming it yet,” the official stated.

He did not have the source’s name available Friday evening, October 9th.

It is legal to raise elk in Ohio and owners do not need a permit to keep them, only to transport them across the state border. However, Angelo noted owners of elk must take measures to keep them in their enclosures, are not permitted to release them into the wild and are required to contact the Ohio Department of Natural Resources within 24 hours of an elk escape, according to The Review of East Liverpool, Ohio.

*The Rocky Mountain elk subspecies has been reintroduced by hunter-conservation organizations in the Appalachian region of the eastern U.S., where the now extinct Eastern elk once lived. After elk were reintroduced in the states of Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee, they migrated into the neighboring states of Virginia and West Virginia, and have established permanent populations there. Elk have also been reintroduced to a number of other states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin. But none are specifically known for Ohio. There is, reportedly, a cryptid population in New Zealand.

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Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

8 Responses to “From Whence Cometh The Mystery Elk?”

  1. woodwose responds:

    Let’s play the name/numbers game. This particular Lisbon is in Clark County on Rt. 54. It’s less than 10 miles from the Fayette County border. The other Lisbon is in Columbiana County and is only about 10 miles from the Pennsylvania border so if this had occured there, there wouldn’t be any mystery about an elk straying over from PA. However, I found it amusing that, less than a mile from the Columbiana County Lisbon is a little burg called “Elkton” on Rt. 154. Go to MapQuest and just put in “Lisbon” and go to the Columbiana County one and you’ll see it.

  2. JMonkey responds:

    According to several reports the Elk (wapiti) found in New Zealand were given as a gift in 1909 by President Roosevelt to New Zealand. They were released into the Fiordland in the Southwestern part of the South Island and reproduced rapidly according to Cardrona Safaris of New Zealand.

  3. Roddy Hays responds:

    The elk in NZ are certainly not cryptid. They are a viable target for many hunters and several are taken every year.

    There is, however, a cryptid population of moose on the South Island. Sightings and tracks have been reported over the years since several animals of Canadian origin were released there in 1910. A recent DOA testing of a hair sample seems to confirm that they still exist in the deep damp reaches of the South Island fjordland forests and may well be an established New Zealand mammal resident.

  4. Loren Coleman responds:

    Right, tripped myself up there, with the elk (moose) in Europe vs elk (wapiti) in North America, re: non-cryptid elk vs cryptid moose in NZ. Thanks R. Hays. Too much packing.

  5. vamelungeon responds:

    There are elk (wapiti) in Kentucky as well. They have come here to Virginia from Kentucky and are doing very well. DNA tests should be able to confirm the origin of this elk.

  6. cryptidsrus responds:

    Interesting story. Probably either the Elk crossed state lines after being released or there is an undetected population of Elk in Ohio? Maybe? That would be Awesome.

  7. Jeremy_Wells responds:

    This part of Ohio is mostly flat, open agricultural land, with scattered woodlots and trees along fencerows… but not a lot of hiding spots for critters as big as an elk.


    The elk in Kentucky were introduced in the late 90s, and they are limited to the southeastern portion of the state. See more.

    This particular Lisbon is in Clark County as I understand it, which is closer to smack dab in the middle of the state (from north to south) and pretty far west. Now, if this elk were found in southeastern Appalachian Ohio, say in Lawrence or Gallia County, I’d say one might have wandered just a bit north. But this was hit in the “flat lands” part of the state.

  8. backwoods responds:

    The PA Elk population is in the North Central part of the state outside St Marys near a small town called Benezette. It would have traveled over 350 miles from the PA herd. Seems much more likely that its origin is Kentucky or escaped from a farm.

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