Elk rescued after Christmas lights, candy canes get stuck in antlers

An elk that got tangled up in some Christmas lights and decorations put on an unusual holiday display this week for Banff residents.

Animal's antlers cut off to avoid future problems, says Parks Canada officer

Wildlife officials warned Banff, Alta., residents against stringing Christmas lights in bushes or trees, after another elk became tangled up this week. (Courtesy of Dan Rafla/Parks Canada)

An elk that got tangled up in some Christmas lights and decorations put on an unusual holiday display this week for Banff residents. 

The bull elk was spotted wandering near the Alberta mountain town with lights and candy cane ornaments strung up in his antlers. 

Parks Canada, which responded to a resident's call, tranquillized the elk to get him untangled. About 4½​ metres of lights were trailing behind him. 

"We thought that it could get wrapped up in its legs and cause some injury and/or get wrapped up in a bush," said resource management officer Blair Fyten

Antlers taken off 

"This elk is one that frequents the edge of the town site and we just thought there could be another possibility that he could find himself wrapped up in some more Christmas lights," said Fyten. "So instead of putting him through the drugging situation again we decided to cut his antlers off." 

The elk is doing fine without his antlers, said Fyten. Elk lose their antlers every year, normally around March or April.

Antlers are primarily used for asserting dominance to secure a mate, which normally happens in September.

“At this time of year, antlers don’t serve a lot of purpose, so that’s why we decided to cut them off,“ said Fyten.

"Every couple of years we'll get an animal that's got Christmas lights on him and sometimes they're able to shed the lights themselves, and sometimes they're wrapped up so tight that we have to intervene."

This year, at least two animals have been trapped in Christmas lights, he said. 

Parks Canada is warning residents who live in areas frequented by deer or elk to string lights onto their houses rather than trees or shrubs, where some wildlife feed.


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