Seaside Stories

Seaside Elk

February 9, 2011 | by Becky Jensen

I was driving into Seaside, along Highway 101 South, and had just passed the Circle Creek Campsite on the left, when I noticed several cars parked off the side of the road. They were people standing around with cameras, and pointing into the field, and so I decided to pull over to see what was happening. As I got out of the car, I noticed there were animals in the field. I thought they were cows at first, but as I looked again I saw that it was Seaside’s own herd of elk.

I decided to do a little investigating into this herd of elk. Having lived on the North Oregon Coast for a while, I’ve seen elk up at Tillamook Head, Ecola State Park, and all along Highway 101, but this herd seems to consistently show up here at Circle Creek. I wanted to know more about these majestic animals that we locals take for granted, and visitors can’t seem to photograph enough.

I called the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and found out these are Roosevelt Elk, and that this herd is part of the Saddle Mountain Unit. There are around 7,500 elk in the Saddle Mountain Unit. Troy, from the ODFW, told me that just this morning they had flown over in a helicopter for their annual classification of the herd. He said that they saw four or five bulls in the group this morning.

He said that this herd uses the land as part of their habitat needs; that they forage for food, waters, etc. Elk usually only go where they can find their habitat needs, but Troy said that although it’s rare, the elk have been known to wander down to the beach, and have been photographed in the surf. He also told me that this herd of elk is genetically related to the same elk that were here when Lewis and Clark came to the Oregon Coast.

The land by Circle Creek, and the Tillamook Head State Park are both protected areas for the herd. The land by Circle Creek, where the elk graze, is former farmland that now belongs to the North Coast Land Conservancy. I called the NCLC, and talked to Katie, who told me about the Circle Creek area. It is 364 acres and the NCLC preserves the area, and the wildlife within (including elk, birds, salmon, etc). The elk are an important part of the ecosystem, and use that area as part of their winter habitat refuge, but it’s only one of their many habitats.

The NCLC is working to create an enhanced habitat, including returning the historical conditions (which was a natural coastal floodplain). They are planting native trees and shrubs, but it will never be a closed forest area. That way, visitors, locals, and I will be able to see the elk for many, many years to come!

Leave a Reply

and so much more!

Lookout on Neahkahnie Mountain

Sometimes an Oregon Coast outdoor adventure doesn

Learn More
Oregon’s North Coast Video Series

Oregon's North Coast Spring Videos

Learn More
Northwest Travel Magazine: Gilbert District

For more than 100 years, the Gilbert District has been a big piece of Seaside's core.

Learn More
Digging for the Bounty!

Razor clamming on Oregon

Learn More
Fishing Adventures In and Around Seaside

Fishing on the Oregon Coast near Seaside

Learn More
Clamming Chronicles

History of clamming in Seaside, Oregon

Learn More
Snail Mail: the Agony & the Ecstasy

Snail mail in Seaside circa 1909.

Learn More
Paragliding on the North Coast

Adventure and fun with paragliding on Oregon

Learn More
A Glimpse of the Turnaround: Circa 1940

Seaside's classic turnaround circa 1940.

Learn More
Northwest Travel Magazine: The Fresh Side of Seaside, Oregon

Feature story on Seaside Oregon, highlighting top attractions in Seaside OR

Learn More
Let’s Fly a Kite

On the beach at Seaside is perfect for this. There are no overhead wires and the beach has few up or down wind drafts from the winds which move across the ocean. This makes kite flying easier and explains why kites are a common part of the Seaside landscape. Kite flying is for dry days as wet kite lines can act as a conductor for static electricity and lightning in a storm.

Learn More
Beauty and the Beach (and a Photo Bomb)

The sundial in Seaside has been around since the 1940s - you can check it out on the promenade today.

Learn More
October is a Fickle Friend in Seaside

October weather is unpredictable on Oregon's North Coast

Learn More
Episode Six: Phillips Candies

Take a walk down memory lane and discover one of Seaside's oldest establishments: the famous Phillips Candies on Broadway.

Learn More
How To Walk Seaside, Oregon

Discover things to see in Seaside, OR including the Seaside Promenade, Tillamook Head Trail & Tillamook Head Lighthouse, bird...

Learn More
Making Seaside Beautiful: Gardens

Seeking help on starting a garden plot sent me in search of Pam Fleming, whose reputation as a resource on Seaside’s Gardens was a bit understated as I was to discover. I met her at the Grand Opening of Back Alley Gardens (find by walking through Natural Nook Florists 734 Broadway).

Learn More
Riders of the Storm

Winter weather on the Oregon Coast is the flipside to flipside to golden summers, but it can be just as beautiful.

Learn More
Saddle Mountain State Park Excursion

A day trip to Saddle Mountain adds diversity to Seaside as a destination vacation.

Learn More