A Beetle took on an elk northwest of Richland. Neither won

A 64-year-old Hanford worker was hospitalized after her Volkwagen Beetle crashed into an elk on Highway 240 as it crossed the nuclear reservation.

Phyllis A. Mulkey of Richland apparently was traveling to work at the site at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday when she slammed into an elk standing in the roadway, the Washington State Patrol said.

Mulkey was treated and later released from Kadlec Regional Medical Center.

The state patrol said the elk died and the carcass was removed by the Fish and Wildlife Department.

This is the second time in three months someone has been hurt hitting an elk in the area around the Hanford Reach National Monument, which is on the west side of Highway 240. A Pasco woman was hurt after she hit a dead elk along Highway 24.

Last November, elk on highways were blamed for three other collisions on the Hanford nuclear reservation. One wreck killed a Hanford worker on a motorcycle.

An adult elk can weigh 400 to 800 pounds, according to the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Hanford officials and the state patrol urge drivers to use caution in the area.

Reader boards have been installed at key areas where elk are frequently seen at Hanford.

Workers were warned in a message earlier this month that numerous elk had been reported in the southern area of the nuclear reservation.

“Animals will cross roads at any time of the day or night, creating a hazard for vehicles and passengers,” said the message from Mike Wilson, a vice president for Hanford contractor Mission Support Alliance.

More than half of the collisions between large animals and vehicles at Hanford happen in October and November.

During the fall breeding season and the start of the Washington state hunting season, the elk herd crossing onto Hanford can range from 350 to 375 animals.

During the winter, the herd can grow to more than 700, according to Mission Support Alliance.

Cameron Probert covers breaking news and education for the Tri-City Herald, where he tries to answer readers’ questions about why police officers and firefighters are in your neighborhood. He studied communications at Washington State University.