Sharpshooters: Wildlife officers untangle two elk locked at the antlers

Left to themselves, these two elk surely would have died.

But Fish and Wildlife officers in northern Alberta managed to get between to bull elk hopelessly tangled together by the antlers to save their lives.

“Finding two animals with their antlers jammed together is a rare event,” Alberta Fish and Wildlife posted Thursday on Facebook. “In these situations, the struggle can last for hours upon hours and often leads to one or both animals dying from exhaustion. If officers find out in time, it is sometimes safe to free the animals by hand or using a saw as they are often so tired they can hardly move.”

But when wildlife officers got the call in Grande Prairie.

The animals were still up and fighting.

That made it unsafe for anyone to “take a hands-on approach.” And, it was too cold that morning to tranquilize them. Waiting for them to tire, could just lead to one, or both of the animals, collapsing from exhaustion.

Bull elk locked at the antlers. Alberta Fish & Wildlife/Facebook

Instead, they employed impressive marksmanship.

“With these things in mind, officers had to find a way to free the animals from a distance without immobilizing them,” officers said. “The location provided a safe and open area to discharge a firearm, so using slugs and a very careful aim, an officer broke off portions of the antler, allowing the two elk to separate.”

Wildlife officers free two elk. Alberta Fish & Wildlife/Facebook

The precision shooting worked.

Once freed, one of the bull elk ran and kept running until it was out of sight. The second one hung back a while to recuperate.

But local resident Darcy Parlee says it might not have been such a happy ending after all.

He posted that he was the one found them on his oil lease land and called in the unusual sighting.

He took this video of the struggle.

And then this one.

One animal is clearly exhausted.

“I found these two on my oil lease and called the fish and wildlife,” Parlee posted. “He came shot the two apart. Later that day I checked up on the poorer one and he charged me hitting my truck once then got his face in my truck window where his antlers stopped at my window opening I all most kissed him. I went back the next day he was dead.”


About the author

Recovering newspaper reporter.

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