December 6, 2022

Say, How Do You Separate Two Bull Elks Locked At The Horns?

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Um….er…..uh, carefully? Yeah, that’s about right. Tell that to Brian Eller and Tom Donham. Eller a Nevada game warden and Donham a Nevada wildlife biologists had the dutiful task of trying to figure out how to separate two bull elk that had been locked together for at least a couple of weeks.

The Nevada Sun tells the story of the two men and their surprise to see what once began as a sparring for dominance had now turned out to be the greatest representation of teamwork either men had seen.

When they reached Indian Valley, south of Austin, it was Nov. 29, one week after the elk were first seen.

“When we arrived where the rancher had last seen them, we found them pretty quickly. They were both lying on the ground and one of them was in a very uncomfortable looking position with his head directly above the others head and his nose pointing straight up to the sky,” Donham said.

Eller said he wondered if they had survived their ordeal.

“Once we found out they were alive, I was hoping they couldn’t move and would stay where they were. That didn’t happen. When they ran off, I was hoping that they could not go very far. That didn’t happen either,” he said.

The elk may have been sparring at the outset, but Donham and Eller say they used teamwork to run for nearly a mile to evade the newcomers. “It looked like they had been doing it all their lives; serious cooperation if I’ve ever seen it,” Donham said.

After a couple of unsuccessful attempts, they were able to get one bull down with a tranquilizer dart making it so the other bull couldn’t run off. They partially sedated that ole boy and then took a hand saw and cut away part of one antler to free the two bulls.

Both bulls eventually walked away feeling a bit “light headed”. Oh, geez! I’m sorry. I couldn’t resist something so obvious.

And they lived happily ever after thanks to the great work of two considerate men.

Tom Remington