JOLIET, IL — No accident report was filed after an elk, believed to be from a central Wisconsin herd, was found dead Wednesday morning on southbound Interstate 55 near Joliet.
According to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources the incident occurred before the exit ramp to Interstate 80, with calls coming in early Wednesday morning. Illinois State Police say no accident report has been filed regarding the incident, and the vehicle involved did not remain at the scene.
Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) maintenance crews, using heavy equipment, removed the carcass, which weighed an estimated 600 pounds. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) confirmed the elk was tagged and has taken possession of the remains. Biologists speculate the elk wandered south from Wisconsin and had been spotted on trail cameras in Illinois, including near Pecatonica in Winnebago County.
Due to the elk’s travel through chronic wasting disease counties in Illinois, IDNR biologists are conducting CWD tests on the remains. They are also collaborating with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. The elk’s recovery was facilitated by an Illinois resident, with IDNR providing assistance for appropriate meat processing.
Elk were once native to Illinois but were eliminated from the state in the early 1800s. The Illinois Conservation Police are currently assisting with the investigation.