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Motorist hits bull elk near Grand Forks airport

Bull elk aren't common near Grand Forks, but a motorist hit one Saturday night on U.S. Highway 2 west of town, and a game warden shot the injured animal Sunday morning in a cornfield on the north side of the highway.

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Elk occasionally wander into Grand Forks County from the Pembina Hills or other, more traditional elk country. This isn’t the animal, but a young bull elk was hit by a vehicle Saturday night on U.S. Highway 2 near Grand Forks, and a game warden put the injured animal down Sunday morning in a cornfield on the north side of the highway.

Bull elk aren't common near Grand Forks, but a motorist hit one Saturday night on U.S. Highway 2 west of town, and a game warden shot the injured animal Sunday morning in a cornfield on the north side of the highway.

The collision occurred at mile marker 351 near Dave's Total RV Repair, said Blake Riewer, district game warden for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Grand Forks.

Riewer put the animal down and issued a permit for the motorist to possess the elk.

While the driver hit the elk Saturday night, Riewer said he didn't learn about the incident until Sunday morning, when he got a call from the Grand Forks County Sheriff's Office. The warden said he was just leaving the house to check duck hunters, so he stopped by the site on the way out of town.

"I assumed it had just happened, so I stopped by, and the guy was there who hit it," Riewer said. "He said, 'No, I hit it last night about 10 p.m.' He said, it's still alive in the cornfield.

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"I asked him, 'Are you sure it's an elk?' And he said, 'Oh yeah, I'm sure.' So I walked in there, and it was still alive."

The elk was a younger bull that originally had a 6x5 rack with six points on one side and five points on the other, but three of the points were broken off, Riewer said.

"I think a couple points at least stuck into the guy's car and broke off," he said.

No further information about the accident was available because there were no injuries, and routine collisions between a vehicle and a deer or other big game animal don't have to be reported, Riewer said.

The warden said he doesn't recall seeing or hearing of elk this close to Grand Forks, at least since he became district game warden in 2013.

"Usually we get a couple every year wander down from the (Pembina) hills, but typically they end up closer to Larimore-in that country from Larimore and Northwood up through Orr, Inkster and Fordville," Riewer said.

Fall is prime time for such collisions, however, so motorists need to be on the lookout.

"You never know what you're going to see," Riewer said.

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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