British Columbia

Lovestruck B.C. elk gets a cold shower

Conservation officers have relocated a half-tonne bull elk and removed its antlers after it became enamoured with local livestock near 100 Mile House, B.C.

Bull elk has antlers removed and is relocated after aggressively mounting cattle

This elk earned a reputation in the 100 Mile House area for his intense attraction to a herd of cattle (Arlene Jongbloets/100 Mile House Free Press)

Conservation officers have relocated a half-tonne bull elk to safer pastures after it became enamoured with local livestock near 100 Mile House, in central B.C.

The 500-kilogram elk — with a metre-high, six-point rack — had taken ownership of a herd of cattle, says 100 Mile Ranch manager Greg Messner.

'It's creating traffic jams on the highway'—Conservation officer James Zucchelli

"He spent some good quality time with a couple of the females," said Messner, with a laugh. "And kept the bull calves away with his big antlers." 

The elk was aggressively mounting heifers and using his antlers to throw young male calves it saw as competition into the air.

It quickly became a local attraction as he pushed the herd into an area on the edge of 100 Mile House, near Highway 97.

This elk, caught on a trail camera on 100 Mile Ranch near 100 Mile House, B.C., had to be relocated after it took ownership of a cattle herd and was aggressively mounting cows. (Contributed by: Greg Messner)

"He was hopping back and forth effortlessly over a 5-foot fence with everybody in view from the highway watching this elk jumping back and forth pushing cows.

"It was entertaining and it was fun to go out on the ranch every morning with your cup of coffee and see where he was and what he was up to but it started to become a bit of a dangerous situation for everybody."

Elk caused traffic jams, had to be relocated

People were lining the side of the road and doing reckless u-turns to watch it, said conservation officer James Zucchelli.

"It's creating traffic jams on the highway, people are stalking it and trying to get close to it for photos and it's just becoming a bit of a celebrity – so it's on the front page of [the] paper now, now it's the talk of the town."

Ranch manager Greg Messner hoists the antlers removed by conservation officers before the animal was relocated. The elk was left with some antler to protect itself. Antlers grow back each year. (Contributed by: Greg Messner)

At one point, the animal broke through a fence and Messner had to round up about 100 escaped cattle.

He said the final straw was when hunters began watching the elk's activities through the scope of their guns.

Hunting isn't permitted in the area, and Messner worried someone might shoot the elk for its impressive rack. So he called and got conservation officers involved.

"Elk are very rare in the 100 Mile-area," said Zucchelli. "There's not a huntable population, there's no season for them here, so when elk show up in this area it's a very unique circumstance."

They first tried to scare away the elk, but it kept coming back to the ranch.

So Zuchelli said they had no other choice than to tranquilize and relocate the animal 65 kilometres away and, for its own safety, removed its antlers — which grow back each year.

With files from the CBC's Brady Strachan