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Elk injures woman in Evergreen

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By Vicky Gits

An Evergreen woman suffered serious but not life-threatening injuries in an encounter with an elk about 11 a.m. Sept. 22 on South San Souci Drive, near Dedisse Park and Troutdale Scenic Drive, about a mile from downtown Evergreen.

A neighbor who talked to the woman’s husband said she was heading back to her car after retrieving a small dog. She didn’t see the elk before it attacked her and knocked her to the ground.

A herd of about 17 elk was in the woman’s yard at the time, said the neighbor, who did not want to be identified.

“She left her house. She was in the car. She got out of the car, and the elk struck,” said Jennifer Churchill, a spokeswoman for the state Division of Wildlife. “She has no memory of it. She woke up on the ground and used a cell phone to call her husband, who was in the house.

“It’s a good time to remind people that elk are very territorial, especially now when they are in mating season. People try to get out of their cars and take close-up photos with a cell phone. But wildlife photographers have 400mm lenses and stay safe without scaring or aggravating the animals,” Churchill said.

“If you are viewing wildlife, and they look up and see you, then you are too close to them,” Churchill said.

People should stay 30 to 50 feet or more away from elk, she said.

The neighbor said the injured woman was not a stranger to wildlife encounters.

“One thing I can tell you is, they are outdoors people. They camp. They hike. She did not come between an elk and a harem,” the neighbor said. “They are knowledgeable. And they have lived here forever. She had gotten out of her car to put a dog away, and when she walked back, this elk came out of nowhere.”