Double Delight: Nature Show Starring Bruiser the Elk and a Coyote

Author: Whidbey Camano Land Trust | 04/02/20
       


Bruiser the elk roams privately-owned property that is adjacent to the Land Trust’s Donald Borgman Nature Preserve on Tuesday, March 31, 2020. The Land Trust removed all but one residential development right on this property (so Bruiser and other wildlife have safe refuge). We hope to acquire a trail easement through the property to allow public access to it in a few years.

Jessica Larson is still shaking her head over an incredible experience with nature recently.

After about a dozen trips spanning several years, Jessica finally got to see what only one other Whidbey Camano Land Trust staff member has witnessed in a rural part of North Whidbey Island:

The handsome bull elk named Bruiser.

It happened late Tuesday afternoon near the Land Trust’s Donald Borgman Nature Preserve. Jessica, the Land Trust’s stewardship manager, had just completed some field work on an adjacent property when on the way back to her car she stopped and gazed across an open field.

Jessica Larson

Jessica Larson: “Every time I’m out there, no matter what time of day, I think, ‘Is today going to be the day I get to see Bruiser?’ It was finally my day.”

“I always hope I’ll see Bruiser,” Jessica said. “It’s good Bruiser habitat. Hundreds of acres of mostly undeveloped open space. At first I just saw a coyote and I was super excited.”

She kept scanning the field and spotted something much larger.

“I thought, ‘Oh my gosh, it’s Bruiser! How lucky am I to see Bruiser and a coyote hanging out in a field doing their own things?'”

Jessica suspects she was about 100 yards away from Whidbey Island’s lone resident elk, which has lived in the Strawberry Point area on North Whidbey since 2012. Some wildlife experts believe the elk swam from the mainland across Skagit Bay to reach the island and remembers the trepidatious journey far too well to attempt to swim back.

The rural landscape near Strawberry Point also seems to suit Bruiser just fine, aside from not having others of its kind around. The bull elk is known to frequent lands protected by the Land Trust in the area. These lands are presently not open to the public.

On Tuesday, Bruiser was seen missing his large rack of antlers, which he shed. But he was still an impressive sight, no less.

“He was amazing,” she said. “You always forget how big elk are when you haven’t seen them in a while. He’s a big guy. Very majestic.”

Jessica said she couldn’t stop smiling all the way home. It was a nice departure from thinking about the public health crisis happening in the world these days.

Nature’s inspirational magic was at work.

“Every time I’m out there, no matter what time of day, I think ‘Is today going to be the day I get to see Bruiser?’ she said. “It was finally my day.”


Bruiser the elk hangs out with a coyote on a North Whidbey field on March 31, 2020.

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