A bull elk had its antlers removed last week after becoming entangled in Christmas tree lights and decorations.
Fearing he could badly hurt himself in long cords, lights and decorations twisted throughout his antlers, wildlife experts in Banff National Park drugged the six-point bull on Wednesday (Dec. 18) so they could help him.
“The Christmas lights and candy canes were wrapped throughout his antlers and there was quite a long piece trailing behind him,” said Blair Fyten, a Parks Canada human-wildlife conflict specialist.
“It might have gotten caught in trees, or wrapped around his legs and caused him injury … and in the end we ended up cutting the antlers right off. We didn’t want him to have to go through that again.”
The animal, which is regularly seen around the Banff townsite, was first spotted by a resident Wednesday morning in the Valleyview neighbourhood. Parks Canada was quick to respond to the report.
The elk was unharmed after the ordeal and has since been doing well. He would not have dropped his antlers until around March.
“This time of year he doesn’t need his antlers,” said Fyten, noting the fall elk rut is now over. “He shedded 25 pounds of weight here, so taking the antlers might give him a little bit of extra energy going through the winter.”
Not all animals fare so well in these situations, as entanglement can be very stressful for wildlife and, in worse case scenarios, can lead to death.
In October, wildlife experts were forced to euthanize a mule deer that failed to recover from the stress of getting entangled in heavy-duty rope and subsequent drugging and handling procedures.
Parks Canada reminds residents to make sure ornaments and light sets are tightly secured, and ensure yards are clear of potential hazards like cords and ropes.
“We know people like to put up lights, but it’s best if they put them on the sides of buildings,” said Fyten. “Keep them away from bushes and trees where elk can get caught in them.”
Parks Canada asks wildlife issues be reported to 403-762-1470.