Don’t allow wildlife to get caught up in your mess

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – On a recent photo shoot, Buckrail captured a picture of a magnificent bull elk with his antlers entangled in some kind of wire. It got us thinking about a couple of things.

Bull elk on the Refuge appears to be unconcerned about his accoutrement.

First, it is good visual reminder for homeowners to make sure their properties are wildlife safe. That means putting up summer things likely to become headwear for moose, elk and deer—the badminton net, the hammock, etc. Barbed wire, baling twine, and Christmas lights have also been known to find their way onto a set of antlers.

Secondly, we wondered what wildlife managers like the folks at the Elk Refuge, where the bull elk featured in our shot, would do about an animal if it were struggling or encumbered by an artificial condition like this. Would they dart the animal and remove it?

We asked Lori Iverson at the Refuge and she passed along a photo of her own and a bit of insight.

“It’s not uncommon for us to see material tangled in elk antlers—wire, string, and even once a large garbage bag. The material is likely more of an annoyance to the animal than a threat to its safety,” Iverson said. “US Fish and Wildlife Service would only intervene if the material caused the animal to be physically stuck in a fence, tree branch, or something like that, and unable to move. It serves as a good reminder for anyone living in areas where wildlife move to keep their residences free of Christmas lights, nets, and other debris that could become tangled in antlers.”

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