How do you free 2 locked elk? Alberta wildlife officers aim for their antlers


Wildlife officers in Grande Prairie had a unique problem on their hands when they were alerted to two bull elk whose antlers were locked together.

“Finding two animals with their antlers jammed together is a rare event,” Alberta Fish and Wildlife explained in a Facebook post Thursday.

“In these situations, the struggle can last for hours upon hours and often leads to one or both animals dying from exhaustion.”

However, officers were determined to come up with a plan to save the elk.

“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.”

That was not the case this time.

“Both animals were still up and fighting with each other, making it unsafe for an officer to take a hands-on approach,” the post explained. “And, if officers were to wait for the animals to tire further and allow the situation to go on, it may increase the chances that one or both of the animals would later collapse from exhaustion.”

The weather that day also made things more difficult, since cold temperatures impact the effectiveness of tranquillizers.

“When tranquilizers are used at certain temperatures, they may hinder the animals’ bodies from being able to normally thermoregulate, leading to hyperthermia or hypothermia,” Fish and Wildlife said.

And so, officers were faced with the challenge of finding a way to free the animals without getting too close to them.

“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,” the post explained.

“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.”

There is no word on the condition of the elk as of Friday.