Droves of Wild Elk Are Chasing Down Minivans and Harassing Residents on the Oregon Coast

County residents are taking to Facebook to track migrations and chronicle hairy encounters with the 1,200 pound animals.

Clatsop County has an elk problem.

For years, the Oregon coastal county has been under siege as hundreds of the hungry animals wander into small towns like Astoria, Gearhart and Warrenton, High Country News reports.

One Gearhart resident, Pauline Como, tells High Country she was recently attacked in her minivan by an elk who charged at her vehicle and gnawed at the door, "leaving bovine-sized teeth marks."

Others say the massive herds are prone to shut down highways, trample pets, graze on gardens and do tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage to area golf courses.

The issue is largely due to overly successful population preservation efforts.

In the early 1900s, overzealous hunting practices culled much of the area's elk population. That caused local agencies to tighten regulations on elk hunting. For the past decade, herd sizes have been increasing rapidly. And Clatsop County, which is relatively low in population and includes large expanses of private logging land, is an appealing place for hungry elk wandering in from the forest.

This isn't the first time animals have overtaken the Oregon coast. Last October, it was plagues of bunnies in Cannon Beach that caught the attention of basically every regional news outlet.

Now massive elk herds have grown so comfortable in the coastal county towns that people are at a loss about how to manage them. Some agency wildlife leaders have requested that the governor's Regional Solutions Office send help, but aren't optimistic there's much to be done.

"Is there a solution to resolve it? I don't know that there is," Warrenton police Sgt. Jim Pierce tells High Country News. "You're dealing with wild animals in a community. How do you chase wild animals out of an area where they've always lived?"

The full story on Clatsop County's renegade elk populations, which is worth reading in its entirety, can be found here. 

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