Photo credits: Thom Bridge, The Montana Standard


A train hit, killed, and scattered a herd of 23 elk last week outside the Montana capital of Helena. The collision took place Wednesday night near the intersection of U.S. Highway 12 and Spokane Creek Road, three miles east of the city.

The Missoulian reported that state wildlife officials were on-site the next morning to end 2015 on a somber note. The carcasses were moved out of sight of passersby, which, as the photo above suggests, drew a lot of attention. An accident of this kind is rare, even in wintering-elk country.


Crews work to move the mangled carcasses of 23 elk from the rails east of Helena.


“It is not a common occurrence for a train to collide with such a large number of animals. It is standard operating practice for MRL [Montana Rail Link] to notify Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials in these rare cases,” The Missoulian quoted MRL spokesman Jim Lewis saying via email.

No salvageable meat was left for human consumption. 

“Pretty much when a 60 mile-per-hour train hits an elk, they explode on impact and there’s not much left,” Warden Sgt. Dave Loewen told The Missoulian. “It’s pretty devastating.”