Edmonton

'Rodeo roping': Alberta wildlife officers rescue elk tangled in wiring

An elk got the province's attention last week after getting tangled in a few hundred feet of wiring and halting traffic in northern Alberta.

The bull elk was dragging several hundred feet of cable

A bull elk found itself wrapped up in wiring last week, dragging a few hundred feet of cable behind it. (Supplied by the Government of Alberta)

An elk got the province's attention last week after getting tangled in a few hundred feet of wiring and halting traffic in northern Alberta.

Wildlife officers rescued the animal using "what can only be described as a combination of rodeo roping and deep-sea fishing techniques," according to an Alberta Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Facebook post.

Last Monday morning, Grande Prairie Fish and Wildlife officers received a call about a bull elk that had a long cord wrapped up in its antlers and was dragging several hundred feet of wiring behind it. A hunter called in about the elk, worried about its safety and about travellers stopping at the road the elk had run across.

The elk was seen near DeBolt, a hamlet around 60 km east of Grande Prairie.

Officers arrived around 9 a.m. to find the elk bucking and trying to shake off the cable in a wheat field. After getting between 100 to 200 yards of the elk, they drove over the wiring to anchor it.

"It had about 300 feet of that phone line out, and when he was running around the truck, he had slack in the line," wildlife officer Cody Bruneau said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

"So we pull the elk in ... and start wrapping the phone line around the front of the truck bumper, just to bring him closer to us."

Bruneau said he knew he could use the truck for safety, which is why they pulled the elk closer instead of approaching it.

Officers then slowly pulled it in until it was close enough to shoot with a tranquilizer. The elk was down within 10 minutes.

After getting its antlers wrapped in wiring, this elk had to have its antlers removed by Alberta Fish and Wildlife Officers. (Supplied by the Government of Alberta)

Bruneau said he doesn't know how or for how long the elk was tied up, although it could have gotten too close to a nearby construction site. He said that the wiring, which was about a half-inch thick, was wrapped around its antlers roughly 15 times.

"He was worked up pretty good, but he was also quite exhausted," Bruneau said. "He probably fought that all night and possibly into the morning until we got there."

The officers removed the elk's antlers so it would not be harvested, allowing time for the drugs to leave its system. It was released around an hour later.

Wildlife that are immobilized by officers are marked with a tag advising their meat should not be eaten.

Bruneau said they see animals caught up in wiring sometimes, especially at this time of year.

He added that if people see wildlife in distress, they shouldn't approach the animal, and instead should call the nearest fish and wildlife office for advice, or the 24-hour Report a Poacher line.

With files from Ariel Fournier.

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