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Wild Thing: Roosevelt Elk
 
Photo by Gary Hayes

During the quieter seasons of the year, Roosevelt elk that frequent the dense lower wooded slopes of the rainforest areas on the Oregon Coast can be seen grazing and resting in open meadows in herds of a dozen or more.

The only way to stand eye to eye with an elk would be to bring a stepladder. Their mere presence can command your full attention. Elk stand five to six feet at the shoulder and can weigh up to 1000 pounds. Most elk migrate from the Coast Range valleys in the spring to spend the summers on the higher slopes, returning to the valleys when winter storms begin to threaten. Some coastal herds stay in the area year-round.

Herds might be seen at many locations, but for the best bet, head to Jewell Meadows Wildlife Area, east of Seaside. During the winter, a supplemental feeding program operated by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife at Jewell Meadows can attract herds of up to 250 elk. The largest concentration is from November to April.

The open pastures border state Highway 202, offering excellent viewing during winter and spring. The main meadow is a year-round refuge with no hunting or public access. There are two paved parking areas, four viewing areas and interpretive signage. The best chances of spotting herds are just after daylight and again in the early evening.

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