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GEARHART, Ore. -- On the Oregon coast in the town of Gearhart weather is often a topic of conversation. But on Wednesday, January 15, despite sunny skies, everyone was talking about the herd of elk that took over downtown.

Wildlife biologists said that's the time of year when the food is much better down near the ocean, and it attracts the herd from high in the forest.

Part of the group was near Gearhart s golf course, including bulls and youngsters.

The mayor said she first noticed the elk coming into town about ten years ago, but only in pairs or maybe three at a time. Now, the herd numbers at least 50.

Photographer Jeff Ter Har followed the herd Tuesday as they took over downtown.

Facebook: Jeff-T Photography

The animals wandered past several businesses, nibbling on plants and grass. Nearly everyone in Gearhart has seen the herd before but usually on the edge of town. It s rare to have them take over downtown.

"Basically, they were on the other side of this building in this park area kind of hanging out, and then they decided to move, and they came up through here, and they stopped there to get a massage, I think," Ter Har said. "They all stood back in that section there."

It's impressive to see the herd up close. It's also important to remember they are wild animals. The mayor said he was worried the animals would attract crowds and someone could get hurt.

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KGW reporter Pat Dooris contributed to this report.

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