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Elk Are Fighting Back

Bull elks can be dangerous when rutting their stuff

By: Mike Suchan, OutdoorChannel.com

Apparently, the elk are fighting back.

With elk season getting in full swing, hunters should be cognizant that a 700-pound animal with gigantic antlers can be rather dangerous. Even a dead one.

A hunter in Utah had killed a bull on Saturday near Vernal, but when he went to roll it, an antler struck the 51-year-old and punctured his neck behind the jawbone. Having trouble breathing, he called for help and was airlifted to a hospital where he required a trachea tube. He’s expected to recover fully.

Maybe four hours away near Moab, Utah, a shepherd was gored by a bull elk, puncturing his lung. He was knocked unconscious then hoped on hunters to find him but ending up walking five miles for help the next day.

Hugo Macha, 31, said he was just sitting against a tree when the elk showed up with ill intents. He tried to scramble away but was run down and gored. Doctors said the Peruvian national, who was resting in a hospital in good condition worrying about his sheep, was fortunate the antler struck in such a way that it didn’t collapse his lung.

Officials said, yeah, the rut is starting. And while bulls get aggressive and sometimes fight to the death, attacks on humans are rare. Nonetheless, officials are getting the word out to be careful out there. Parks Canada is warning visitors to popular destination Banff about the dangers during the annual mating ritual, now to the end of October there. It brings together a couple dozen cows with a bull, who are known to get testy if others, including people, tread on his spread.

Saundi Norris, a Canadian resource conservation officer, tells people to keep at least 30 meters away, carry bear spray and don’t let your dog run loose. Norris advises folks in cars to stay in them.

Uh, that last one didn’t work so hot last year in Yellowstone. Elk there unleashed their fury on the tourists. A good number of people doing drive-by wildlife sightings got big surprises when elk charged and rammed their vehicles with their antlers. Talk about a bull rush.

One elk really hated those cars. It was counted to charge and damage at least 47 vehicles.

On a down note, an elk kill occurred two weeks ago that has New Mexico Game and Fish folks scratching their heads. More than 100 elk died within a 24-hour period on a 75,000-acre rural ranch near Las Vegas – yeah, there’s a Vegas in New Mexico.

Officials ruled out many of the regular suspects, anthrax, pesticides, water source contamination. Nothing’s been determined, but other possibilities are an ultra-rare lightning strike or an unknown disease. Ranchers in the area are hoping to learn why.

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