FUNK — Within one week, two bull elk were hit and killed by vehicles in south-central Nebraska.
On Wednesday, a bull elk was struck by a vehicle driven by Gregory Ullman of Kearney at 12:41 a.m. on U.S. Highway 6 and 34 near V Road in Phelps County, according to the Phelps County Sheriff’s Office. The impact killed the elk, but three more vehicles proceeded to hit the animal.
“This is a first for us. It was quite a mess,” said Phelps County Sheriff Gene Samuelson.
All four vehicles were driving westbound when they came upon the animal. Ullman and Elizabeth Menzer of Bertrand both had major damage to their vehicles and had to have them towed from the scene. Roberta Camper of Florence, Colo., and Adam Henry of Papillion also ran over the elk, but only experienced minor damage to their cars. There was no report of injuries to any of the vehicles’ occupants.
The nearest population of elk that the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission is aware of is located south of Gothenburg. They have been in the Loess Canyons since the late 1990s, and it is believed they migrated from Colorado.
“However, there are elk in pockets across western Nebraska and as far east as the eastern Sandhills near Burwell and likely in the Loess Hills of Custer County. It’s not uncommon for bull elk to wander, and we get reports throughout Nebraska every year, including south-central Nebraska,” said Luke Meduna, big game program manager for the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
A bull was documented on the Sacramento-Wilcox State Wildlife Management Area last fall, Meduna said. There have been numerous reports during the years of elk in the region, including in Bertrand, Kenesaw and the Republican River valley. Meduna said there is a bull elk that has lived near Ravenna for the last five-plus years.
This is the first elk Meduna has heard of being hit in Phelps County, but it’s not out of the ordinary.
A 1-year-old bull elk was struck at 12:45 a.m. July 2 by a 2007 Chevy Tahoe on Highway 183 in Harlan County, according to the Harlan County Sheriff’s Office. No one was injured in the accident, and the vehicle had to be towed.
“One was hit near York this past fall. They are active at night and that’s the most common time that they’re involved in vehicle collisions; fortunately, those collisions are pretty rare in Nebraska,” he said.