Oak Bay Sea Rescue’s volunteers are on call 24/7, 365 days a year, but a June 30 call they responded to was a first.
Unlike their usual missions of helping capsized or struggling boaters, three Sea Rescue crew members had to tow a dead elk off McNeill Bay’s beach after receiving a request from the District of Oak Bay.
Around noon on Wednesday, the crew attached their stern tow line to the animal’s antlers on the west side of the bay’s rocky shoreline.
“This is certainly one of the more unusual requests for our search and rescue vessel,” said Justin Stephenson, coxswain at the Royal Canadian Marine Sea and Rescue Station 33. “This was our first elk rescue.”
Using the rigid-hulled inflatable to pull the carcass into the water, the crew moved at about four knots through Enterprise Channel – the waters between McMicking Point and the Trial Islands. The elk’s stomach was bloated and the remains floated behind the boat, Stephenson said.
The antlered animal was towed past Mary Tod Island to Cattle Point, where Oak Bay municipal workers were awaiting its arrival. Crews used an excavator to lift the carcass into the back of a truck and it was taken away to be properly disposed of.
Stephenson said it’s unknown how the elk died, but he speculated the death could have been related to the intense heat or that the animal was swimming and got caught in big waves during Tuesday night’s windy conditions.
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