WARRENTON — Kristina Washington was catching a ride home from work this month on state Highway 104 when her Coast Shuttle driver stopped near Fourth Street for a herd of elk crossing the road.
Things turned scary when a wayward cow looked over and started toward the Toyota Prius.
“I instantly felt panic,” Washington said. “I knew something bad was going to happen.”
The cow mounted the hood, slipping and smashing into the windshield before climbing off and moving on to the side of the road. The incident left a damaged car, Washington and her driver rattled and the owner of the shuttle service wondering if it’s even worth giving people rides at night in Warrenton.
“We’re dodging elk every night, and it’s starting to get a little scary,” said David Nelson, the owner of Coast Shuttle.
The taxi service makes between three and 10 trips a day shuttling people between Warrenton and Hammond, Nelson said. Over the last 20 years he’s had the company, drivers have collided with elk three times, including one instance when an animal went through a windshield, he said.
While he thinks the elk are beautiful, Nelson wonders why the herds aren’t being thinned out or relocated, a concern among many residents upset with elk on private property and in roadways. Washington said she and others have witnessed people feeding elk near the spot where the cow climbed on the car, a civil infraction in Warrenton.
The Warrenton Police Department has received more than 60 calls about elk over the last three years, Sgt. Jim Pierce said. Most concern elk laying in the road and damaging property, with rarer instances of aggressive behavior by the animals.
Pierce said he has never heard of an elk going out of its way to approach a car, but called it “a good reminder that these guys are wild, and you just can’t predict what they’re going to do.”