Early on Wednesday morning, shortly after midnight, a family living north of Hailey, Idaho, were awakened by a loud crashing noise coming from the basement of their home. Jodi Siegel said her husband, Matthew, went downstairs to investigate. “Within one second he ran back upstairs and grabbed me and the kids and put us in a room. He said there’s an elk in the basement.”
Siegel said the cow elk had fallen through a window well. She called 911, and sheriff’s deputies and Fish and Game officers arrived in about 20 minutes.
The only exit from the basement was up the stairs into the main level of the house. Siegel said the officers said they had no means of tranquilising the animal. They held mattresses in front of them to try to herd the terrified elk up the stairs, but couldn’t get it to move that direction.
She said that after about five unsuccessful attempts, they started to talk about maybe having to shoot it.
“But we said let’s try one more time.”
Siegel said they rearranged the furniture to make more of a corridor.
“They blocked off any other way that it could go but up the stairs. That final time, it went up the stairs and out the door. Once it was out, it was happy and bounced through the snow.”
Siegel said the animal probably rejoined a herd of about 30 elk that the family had seen around the house earlier that evening.
She said rugs and some furniture in the basement were destroyed, mostly by shards of glass and elk urine.
Siegel expressed gratitude for the officers’ efforts.
“It was a dangerous situation,” she said. “We’re lucky no one got injured.”
She said her two children, Elli, 6, and Greyson, 4, spent most of the time hiding under the covers.
Fish and Game Conservation Officer Alex Head said the effort took about two and a half hours.
“But we got her out uninjured,” he said. “The basement will need a good, deep cleaning, but we’re glad it worked out as well as it did.”