Elk Seen Swimming On West Side Of Big Spirit Lake

Thu 10-13-2016 IA"], ["Marble Beach Spirit Lake

(Spirit Lake)-- It isn't exactly every day you see an elk going for a swim in Big Spirit Lake. But that's exactly what Courtney Bolluyt and others saw this (Thurs.) morning on the west side of Big Spirit Lake. She happened to snag some video of it on her cell phone and the footage has gone viral on social media (Click here to view the footage on our Facebook Timeline).

Bolluyt tells KUOO news she had to get video of it or she was worried no one would believe her...Elk siting01 

"It was about 8:30 and my husband and I were just leaving home on the west side of Big Spirit and heading north on 240th Avenue and just after we past Hogsback, kind of in the Buffalo Run area, we could see there were a couple of fishermen out on the lake on Big Spirit, we could see something in the water and we slowed down to see what was going on because we could see the antlers. We pulled over on the side of the road and got out. That's when I got the video going and we could see the elk swimming toward the shore. Unfortunately my phone ran out of memory before it got out of the water, but we did see it climb up onto the shore and go across the road over toward the Hogsback area. There was a truck on the road, he had to slam on his brakes. He certainly got a startle out of it. But pretty huge, pretty impressive creature. I was surprised to see that on Big Spirit."

Steve Reighard, a Conservation Officer for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, says he's had a couple of report of sitings of the elk. He says he doesn't believe it came from an elk farm or somewhere like that...Elk siting02 

"If it came from like an elk farm where they raise them, they have tags in their ears. We didn't see any tags. That's not saying it wasn't, that it didn't escape from a farm somewhere, but there aren't any elk farms in the near vicinity right here."

Reighard says elk are native to western South Dakota and the Black Hills, along with Montana.

He says this isn't the first time an elk has been seen in the area. He says a young elk was seen four years ago west of Milford near the Little Sioux River...Elk siting03 

"There was couple of different sitings of it, saw a couple of different pictures of it. Once they get into a corn field they disappear right away. It was about this time of year, the corn was starting to come out. We had a couple of pictures of it. I never personally saw it. We could validate where the pictures were taken, and it was definitely a young elk at that time, too."

Reighard offers this advice if you happen to see it...Elk siting04 

"If you see it, just leave him alone. I don't know if he's going to wander back to where he came from or head up into Minnesota. And this time of year be cautious driving with fields coming out. Now we've got a bigger animal than a normal deer you've got to be watching for."

Reighard requests anyone who sees the elk to contact him or the DNR office at the Fish Hatchery in Orleans. That number is 336-1840.