A person usually does not go out the door in the morning expecting to see a UFO. That was certainly the case for 14 forestry workers in Washington State, who had been hired to plant seedling trees that morning on a snow-covered hillside just west of Mt. St. Helens. Even if the subject of UFOs crossed their minds briefly, they certainly could not have imagined that before the end of the day they would witness a UFO lift an adult female elk out of the forest and fly off with the animal!
On the morning in question, the workers had driven up a series of logging roads to get to a remote hilltop, which was scheduled for replanting. The planting was difficult and cold, given the drifting snow, but the tedium was tempered by the fact that they were skilled at their work. Several of them had worked in the forestry industry, some for the same employer, for over a decade. As they worked throughout the horning, they enjoyed the opportunity to observe a large herd of elk feed in the valley below.
At approximately 11:58 a.m. that Thursday, the team leader set down his tools and prepared to call a halt for lunch. As he straightened up and surveyed the workers on the north-facing hillside below him, his attention was immediately drawn to a peculiar-looking object, approximately a quarter mile to the northeast, which he at first thought might be a parachute or a hang-glider soaring over a nearby ridge. However, given the strange shape of the object, and given the fact that the object appeared to be approaching in a purposeful manner, the crew chief quickly realized that he was looking at something quite peculiar. He called out to his crew to have them take a look.
The workers looked up and saw the object clearly below them. They were entranced by its peculiar appearance, in both shape and color, and by the fact that it was approaching their general location as it skimmed just above the treetops. They later described its shape as being "like the heel of a man's shoe," with a slight indentation on the back end, and it appeared to have two "panels" on its dorsal (top) side, one bright white and the other blood red. Also, they quickly noted that it appeared to be flying directly toward the herd of elk. However, they were not at all prepared for what happened next.
The object got very close to the herd before the animals suddenly started and bolted for the closest heavy timber, perhaps 200 yards uphill to the northeast— all of them except one hapless adult female, which started trotting northwest away from the rest of the herd along an unused logging road. The witnesses were flabbergasted as they watched the aerial object approach the lone elk, position itself directly above the animal, and then suddenly lift it off the ground with its feet dangling limply.
The witnesses, when interviewed several days after the incident, admitted that they experienced their first sense of amazement and alarm at this point. It was the opinion of all involved that the animal went limp at the instant it was plucked off the ground, raising the possibility that the animal had expired or been rendered unconscious at that moment.
With the animal now suspended closely below the object and appearing to the witnesses to be shorter than the object itself, the peculiar craft began flying slowly to the northeast, toward the heavy timber in which the rest of.the herd were now hidden from view. However, when the object reached a row of tall trees, it actually bumped into the tops of several of them and stopped its forward motion, seemingly unable to continue. It was then seen to turn to the west out over a deep valley, executing a 360-degree spiraling turn and gaining altitude the whole while. By this time, the witnesses reported that the animal apparently had been "absorbed" into the craft, since they could no longer see it dangling below.
After having gained substantial altitude, the object suddenly accelerated very rapidly to the north, moving almost directly away from the stunned witnesses, and it disappeared over a ridge approximately a mile away. As they continued watching for several seconds, they suddenly saw the object in the extreme distance, streaking at very high speed almost vertically up into the sky. That is the last they saw of it.
The workers continued to discuss the event throughout their lunch break, and they admitted later to investigators that the event had frightened them. Throughout the remainder of the workday, they kept their eyes peeled for the object, and they worked in a tightly clustered group, feeling some sense of safety by staying in close proximity to their work mates. Upon returning to their base camp, they reported the incident to their employer, who then passed the case along to the National Uf'O Reporting Center.
Eight days after the incident, I traveled to the site with Robert A. Fairfax, Director of Investigations for the Washington State Chapter of the Mutual UFO Network, and conducted an on-site investigation.
The day after the sighting, an employee of the land company happened upon a dead adult female elk lying beside a logging road, approximately one to two miles north of the workers' location at the time of the sighting.
The employee, a seasoned forestry Worker, continued to watch the carcass for several days, and noted that peculiarly, it had not been predated by foxes or coyotes even a week after its discovery. This fact was confirmed by Fairfax and myself when we examined the carcass-—that of a well fed, well-muscled, and otherwise uninjured adult female elk—on March 5, eight days after the abduclion incident. Dead, fully engorged ticks were still embedded in the animal's flesh. This is unusual, according to entomologists, given that a tick will usually detach itself from a dead animal as the temperature of the carcass drops.
Fairfax and I could not establish that the animal we examined was the same animal that the witnesses had seen lifted off the ground by the object. However, it was unusual, the forestry employee reported, to find a dead animal that appeared to have been in such good physical condition at the time of its death.
The case remains open, although the only solid evidence about the incident is the testimony provided by the eyewitnesses. A detailed analysis, written by Robert Fairfax, can be read in the July 1999 issue of the MUFON Journal. Fairfax and I appeared together in March 1999 on the Jeff Rense radio program to discuss the incident.
This case seems to document the interest that UFOs have in animals. Farmers and ranchers in the United States have reported tens of thousands of bizarre mutilations of their domestic animals, but cases involving animals in the wild are, not surprisingly, rather rare, given how difficult they are to discover and document.