It’s been a coon’s age since the last wild elk had been killed in Ohio.
That changed a bit Wednesday when a Geauga County farmer saw a bull elk in his Parkman Township field.
When given the green light by the Ohio Division of Wildlife that elk are not a protected species here the farmer bagged the bull, adding a few hundred pounds of prime meat to his freezer.
After the animal’s remains are checked out for chronic wasting disease (CWD), that is. That is because elk have been known to be infected with the prion-based brain disorder disease.
Just how the elk came to be in Geauga County is easier to explain than how an elephant got into Grocho Marx’s pajamas.
It seems that the elk is an escapee from an elk-rearing farm in western Pennsylvania.
Wildlife Division officials said that the animal headed west, through Ashtabula County and made its last, fatal, stop in Geauga County.
Exotic ungulates are uncommon in Northeast Ohio though not totally unheard of. Sometimes sika deer are shot by Lake County hunters.
These exotic Asian deer are the remnants or offspring of sikas that escaped from an estate in Leroy Township.
Nor was the elk the only game species that chose to visit Ohio. In most cases where a black bear is seen in Northeast Ohio it is the result of a young male animal that has been booted out by its mother and is looking to set up housekeeping on his own.
Likewise the Geauga Park District notes in its latest “Snow Belted” exhibit at the West Woods Reservation that it is only a matter of time before porcupines migrate west from Pennsylvania and into Northeast Ohio.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn