Oak Harbor officials seek to close well that trapped a deer

Oak Harbor city officials are trying to arrange to have an unused well next to a mobile home park permanently sealed after a dead deer was found moldering in its watery depths.

A resident called police March 11 to report that the dead animal was inside a partially uncovered well next to the Evergreen Mobile Home Park on Goldie Road.

Oak Harbor’s animal control officer responded and found the deer was reduced to mainly just bones, according to the Oak Harbor Police Department.

“We’re obviously concerned that it’s a safety hazard,” said Arnie Peterschmidt, project engineer with the city of Oak Harbor. He added that a building official is working with the landowner to solve the problem.

Keith Higman, director of Island County Public Health, said the hand-dug well was not being used by the mobile home park but hadn’t been officially decommissioned.

State law requires that property owners formally decommission wells that are no longer in use or dilapidated beyond repair, according to Higman.

Abandoned hand-dug wells need to be filled with clean, chlorinated sand and then capped; the rules are different for drilled wells, he said.

The state Department of Ecology reports that improperly abandoned wells, especially “the shallow dug type,” can pose safety and environmental hazards.

The state relies on reports from property owners for the location of abandoned wells, but nobody has a clear estimate of how many there are. The Department of Ecology estimates that there are anywhere from 10,000 to as many as 100,000 across the state.

A construction worker in Shelton fell into an abandoned well while looking for the wellhead in 2013 and suffered hypothermia, according to King 5. There have been no reported deaths of people falling into old wells in the state in recent years, but animals haven’t been so lucky.

“Every year there are reports of dogs, horses or other farm animals injured or killed from a fall into an abandoned well,” the Department of Ecology website states.

Higman, however, said old wells aren’t a county-wide issue, though officials periodically come across hand-dug wells from years past.


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