Beached cow remains a mystery, Port working to clean it up

The Port of Kingston is seeking a solution to remove a cow that washed up on Kingston
The Port of Kingston is seeking a solution to remove a cow that washed up on Kingston's North Beach earlier this week.
— image credit: Johnny Walker/ For the Kingston Community News

KINGSTON — The cow that washed up on Kingston's North Beach earlier this week is causing a bit of a headache for the Port of Kingston.

Harbormaster Kevin Van Vliet was at a loss with what to do about the brown-spotted mammal.

The port "called about five agencies on [Wednesday]," Van Vliet said. "We kept getting redirected."

As of Friday afternoon the port had not received a solid answer on how to dispose of the cow. Van Vliet said port employees first called 9-1-1, which directed them to public works, who then directed them to fish and wildlife, then to animal rescue and the humane society. So far, no answer.  Port employees are still making phone calls to find out the best solution to the problem.

Kingston's North Beach is located on the opposite side of the ferry terminal from Mike Wallace Park.

Generally, an animal carcass is considered solid waste, according to Department of Ecology spokesperson Larry Altose. However, because the cow has been there for days, it could make it difficult to remove.

Upon hearing the news of the beached cow from the Herald, Jason Kelly of the Department of Agriculture said he would check to see if a report had been made. If not, the department would dispatch a health investigator, which is standard procedure.

The investigator will try and establish a cause of death and find out if there was an infectious disease.

Altose recommends staying clear of the area. There are pathogen concerns as the animal deteriorates, he said. To drive his point home, he said whoever disposes of the animal "would probably be suited up."

However, removing the cow is not going to be easy. There is limited access to the beach. The carcass' age, too, could be a factor.

"It's going to be hard to pick up if it's that old," Altose said. "Yuck."

Port employees have discussed alternatives, if removal is left up to them.

Initially, it was thought the water would carry the cow back out to sea with a high tide; before any cleanup could happen. That isn't the case. Van Vliet said the cow is wedged in a pile of rocks.

Even if it did get pulled back to the Puget Sound, Van Vliet is worried about watercraft. He knows there's plenty of logs floating around, but "I don't want a floating navigational hazard," he said.

Though the origin of the cow is unknown, Van Vliet said it's possible it floated from a beef farm on Whidbey Island.

For now, the port will wait until it gets word on exactly what to do. This is the first time a cow has washed up onto the beach, Van Vliet said. Typically, animal removal involves some kind of investigation.

Is the problem frustrating?

"Big time," Van Vliet said.


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