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Beloved Youbou elk ‘Bob’ dead after collision with car

The majestic creature that has, for years, captured the hearts of many around the Cowichan Lake area, has died after being struck by a vehicle at roughly 2:45 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 25.

Bob the large Roosevelt bull elk who frequented the Youbou area so much that he was given a name, was confirmed to be the animal that died.

“Bob is gone,” said Youbou’s Wendy Stokes, his long-time advocate. “I’m going to miss him laying by my house,” she continued, adding that he was a community icon.

“I don’t even think I really even realize what happened yet because I’ve been so busy.”

It’s believed the driver of the vehicle was new to the region and not too well versed on the animals in the area. While the driver did not suffer life-threatening injuries as a result of the crash, his vehicle was totalled.

SEE RELATED: What about Bob? Youbou aims to immortalize infamous elk

Stokes said she actually saw the flashing lights the morning of the collision.

“I got up to look out the window and thought oh my god, Bob’s dead. I don’t know why I thought that,” she said.

Over the last dozen years or more, Bob had become well acquainted with humans, roaming the area nibbling on lawns, peaking through windows, and for arguably his best human friend, even shedding his antlers in her yard.

Stokes had been watching over Bob’s health for about a dozen years, chatting with him frequently, and alerting the BC Conservation Officers Service when he needed any interventions.

Bob had even come to rely on Stokes and other human friends at times, like back in January, 2019 when he was tranquilized by conservation officers after he’d been spotted with a clothesline around his head.

Conservation officer Mark Kissinger responded to that call.

He said he found Bob with a plastic-covered metal clothesline around his neck and antlers, but it wasn’t impacting his ability to eat or hindering his movements.

“We tranquilized the elk, cut away the clothesline, and then gave him a reversal drug that helped him quickly recover from the tranquilizer,” Kissinger said at the time. “He was fine when he finally stood up and we’ve received reports that he is, once again, roaming around the area and eating the grass on people’s lawns with no after effects from the clothesline or the drugs.”

More recently, in March of 2022 the provincial veterinarian joined Kissinger to visit the aging animal, who was estimated to be roughly 13 years old at the time, for some tender loving care.

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Later that month Bob visited Stokes’s yard on two occasions, leaving an antler for her each time. The pair had an amazing connection, one that Stokes treasured greatly. It seems Bob did too as he quite often stood outside her home and called for her to come out for a visit.

Stokes isn’t alone in her love of Bob. He was such a fixture in the community that there had been an ongoing effort to install a life-sized wooden carving of the elk in the park for all to enjoy, and to immortalize the animal. In the end the regional district quashed the community effort.

“The only reason Bob is Bob is that he makes his rounds to people who feed him,” Stokes said. “The other ones are still skittish and I hope they stay that way.”

SEE RELATED: Elk tranquilized in Youbou to remove clothesline from head

Being hit by a moving vehicle was too much for Bob. Even the larger-than-life animal couldn’t bounce back.

“Bob is old and slow. Bob stands in the middle of the road,” Stokes. “I don’t know what happened, I just know that he’s no longer with us. People are very upset.”

He’ll be missed terribly by Stokes and the rest of the community.

Meanwhile the community is rallying around Stokes, knowing she’s lost her dear friend. Flowers keep appearing at Stokes’s door, she says.

A memorial is being planned and memorial merchandise is being crafted by an area merchant with the proceeds going to a good cause.

“I think the community will miss him looking in their windows,” Stokes said. “I think he liked to get his picture taken. It’s just not going to be the same without him here.”

While Stokes said she doesn’t believe the man who struck Bob was speeding, Bob’s death will reignite the highway safety issues around the area.

“I hope that young man will be OK,” she said about the driver, who has taken some flack on social media about hitting the animal. “I don’t know if something is going to happen with the traffic but people are going to start speaking up. People are tired of the way the traffic is, the speeding, and I think Bob dying has put enough fuel in the fire to make something happen.”

Sarah Simpson

About the Author: Sarah Simpson

I started my time with Black Press Media as an intern, before joining the Citizen in the summer of 2004.
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