Youbou’s Wendy Stokes has long been a steward of the community’s elk population. She has a particular soft spot for Bob, one the area’s most famous elk.
“I have lived here 45 years. Back in the days we had to go to Shaw Creek to see them, now they’re in your yard,” she explained. “We have to respect them, we are in their territory.”
Like other elk-lovers in the area, Stokes keeps an eye out for the local population and reports to conservation officers whenever the massive mammals need some medical attention (or to be sprung free from whatever clotheslines or Christmas lights they get caught up in).
These days Stokes says Bob isn’t looking as spry as he once was. It comes as no surprise, really, as he seems to have been around forever. But still. It’s sad.
“Bob is skinny,” she said. “He’s old.”
About a month ago, the provincial veterinarian, Conservation Officer Mark Kissinger, and Stokes visited Bob for some tender loving care.
“We wormed him so hopefully that might help,” she said.
After that, everyone carried on with their lives as usual — humans doing human things, elk doing elk things.
It’s now months after the rut, and Bob’s antlers have served their purpose for the year so the other day Stokes asked Bob if he would kindly shed an antler in her yard for her to keep.
After all, “he is the icon of Youbou,” she said. What an amazing keepsake that would be!
On March 16 Stokes got her wish. Bob dropped an antler right in her driveway.
“It makes me wonder if he understands my conversation with him,” she said with a chuckle.
Thrilled with the gift, it would have made for a great story if it ended there.
On March 18 Bob returned to gift his second antler to Stokes. She’s now the proud owner of a complete set.
“He shook his head and it landed by my gate,” she said. “I said ‘thank you Bob!”
The pair have an amazing connection, one that Stokes treasures greatly. It seems Bob does too as he stands outside her home and calls for her to come out for a visit.
Stokes isn’t alone in her love of Bob. Such a fixture in the community is he that there’s 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.
Finally a community project that isn’t being held up by red tape, lack of funding, and arguments!
Monica Ash is leading that charge and just two months in, things are looking good on the fundraising front.
As of March 18, the GoFundMe had reached $1,525 of the $2,500 goal. Ash also reported that Mosaic has offered $500 cash donation while the owner of Karlite is donating half of the wood required.
“That helps immensely and we are so appreciative,” she said.
Twin Raven Counselling has also offered a donation. No doubt others that I don’t yet know about have as well. It seems to have been an issue that the entire community can get behind.
Local carver, Roy Anderson, has even offered his carving services for free!
Bob comes and goes all the time. With the carving, the beloved Roosevelt elk will be able to stay forever.
While a giant wooden statue of Bob will be a spot where many will smile as they see it day to day, it won’t be the same as the real thing.
“I will miss him when he doesn’t come around,” Stokes admitted.
No doubt the entire community of Youbou feels the same way.
To donate to the cause visit the page at https://gofund.me/74a18f39
Any money raised over and above the amount needed to complete the project will be donated directly to the Habitat Conservation Trust Foundation or another equitable source that will ensure the livelihood of the elk for future generations.