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The old Winona bridge.  10-03.
Clickable Map.  Winona.

Don't forget Winona--or elk on the road.  It is not likely that the Arizona State Department of Highways will forget Winona.  In December 1998, Jerry Booth was severely injured when his car collided with an elk on Interstate 40 near the Winona exit (milepost 211).

Mr. Booth sued the state claiming that Arizona had failed to exercise reasonable care in light of the known elk hazard and had not used appropriate fencing, cleared vegetation to improve visibility or reduced the speed limit.  The jury found in favor of Mr. Booth, and the state appealed.

On appeal, Arizona contended that the state should not be held responsible for elk wandering across the interstate.  The Court of Appeals reviewed the facts of the case.  They found that elk, which weigh between 550 and 850 pounds, have had an increasing population in northern Arizona since 1980.  They also found that although Arizona had placed signs in the area warning of the elk hazard, it is unlikely that an attentive driver traveling at the posted 75 mph speed limit would be able to avoid a collision with a fast moving elk should it dart onto the highway.

One doesn't have to chance elk sightings on Route 66 or Interstate 40. A view of the large critters is assured if one takes a slight detour to visit Deer Farm.  The moose pictured is more stationary than those at the deer farm, having been mounted on the wall of the Mormon Lake Lodge, just south of Flagstaff.  6-04.

The court also found that the fencing along Interstate 40 is not designed to and does not prevent elk from entering the roadway.  In the particular five mile section of I-40 where Mr. Booth collided with the elk, there were 168 reported collisions with elk between 1994 and 2000.

At trial an expert testified that in nine other states and in Canada, eight foot fences and underpasses for the elk were used to prevent elk from entering roadways.  He also testified that had those precautions been used on I-40, the collision rate would have been reduced by 96%.

The state lost its appeal, and Mr. Booth kept his judgment.

Even-toed Herbivore Primer

A moose is an elk is a deer.  Moose and elk are large, even-toed herbivorous mammals of the deer family.  Their scientific name is Alces alces (Kingdom: Animalia; Phylum: Chordata; Subphylum: Vertabrata; Class: Mammalia; Subclass: Theria; Order: Artiodactyla; Family: Cervidae; Subfamily: Odocoilinae; Genus: Alces; Species: alces).

Moose-smoose.  An adult male moose weighs from 1200 to 1500 pounds and stands 6 to 7 feet at the shoulders, making them the largest members of the deer family.  They live 15 to 25 years, barring unfortunate incidents with motorists along I-40 or hunters around Mormon Lake.  They are generally bigger in Alaska (an Alaskan Moose discovered in 1897 holds the record standing at 7.68 feet and weighing just under 1,800 pounds) and smaller as one heads south.  The Shiras moose, also known as the "Wyoming" or "Yellowstone" moose, is the smallest of the moose family.  Adults of this variety weigh in at 600 to 1400 pounds.  For comparison, the adult domestic horse will weigh from 1,300 to 2,000 pounds, and stand 5 to 7 feet in height at the shoulders.

Elk are mini-moose.  Elk are smaller and more social.  In summer Elk may be found in herds of up to 400 animals, lead by a single cow.  The Rocky Mountain Elk, which have a range along the Rocky Mountains from British Columbia south to New Mexico, weigh from 500 to 700 pounds as adults.  The Rocky Mountain Elk have take up residence in Arizona where they are said to offer some of the best elk hunting in the world.

European moose.  In Europe, elk are called moose, while moose aren't called anything since there are none.  This nomenclature confuses only those familiar with the North American deer family where there really are moose and elk.

Non-herbivorous moose & elk.  Alces alces has inspired more fraternal organizations than any other species.  The Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks was founded in 1868, with no apparent intention to be benevolent or protective of elk.  Precisely two decades later (1888), the Loyal Order of Moose came into being.  Other species do have their fraternal societies [Haliaeetus leucocephalus--Fraternal Order of Eagles (1898); Panthera leo--Lions International (1917);Homo sapiens--Independent Order of Odd Fellows (1819)], but only this branch of the deer family has two such organizations.

Collective moose.  Moose, elk and deer are collective nouns.  One moose is a moose, but two or more moose are still just moose.  BPOE notwithstanding, there are no elks, mooses, or deers.

 

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