Outdoors

After 6 weeks with Fish and Game, ‘tame’ Idaho elk headed to a ‘forever home’

An Idaho bull elk that was removed from the wild after he became too familiar with humans has finally found a “forever home,” according to an Idaho Department of Fish and Game news release.

On Thursday, the agency announced that the 1 1/2-year-old elk is headed to College Station, Texas, to be part of Texas A&M University’s wildlife management and veterinary medicine programs.

The elk, named Elliott by locals in the Sweet area north of Boise, was taken from the wild as a calf and raised in captivity, Fish and Game officials said. As a result, he became habituated to humans, which raised concerns during the 2019 fall rut, or mating season.

Fish and Game relocated Elliott to Bear Valley in August, but the animal pretty quickly cozied up to archery hunters in the area, who spent the opening weekend of elk archery season ensuring no other hunters tried to harvest the bull. As a result of Elliott’s failure to rejoin an elk herd, he was again captured by Fish and Game.

According to the news release, Elliott left Idaho on Thursday morning. When he arrives in Texas, he’ll be part of a menagerie at the university’s animal paddock, which includes white-tailed deer, fallow deer, zebra, addax antelope and more.

“Of the alternatives available, A&M was the best place for this elk to land,” Fish and Game wildlife veterinarian Mark Drew said in the news release. “He will be well cared for and enjoy a good life at this world-class facility.”

Drew and other Fish and Game veterinary staff had to secure paperwork and conduct testing before transferring the elk to Texas. They tested for bacterial infections including brucella and tuberculosis, as well as certifying that Elliott is free from chronic wasting disease, a prion disease similar to mad cow disease that affects deer and elk across much of the country.

In all, Elliott spent about six weeks under Fish and Game care before he could be moved to a new location. In September, Fish and Game wildlife manager Rick Ward said he was disappointed that Elliott had to be recaptured.

“The message is that picking up wildlife can have repercussions for both the animals and the people that’s unintended,” Ward said. “That animal will never be wild.”

In the news release, Drew said Texas A&M will be a good fit for the 400-pound bull elk.

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Nicole Blanchard is the Idaho Statesman’s outdoors reporter. She grew up in Idaho, graduated from Idaho State University and Northwestern University and frequents the trails around Boise as much as she can.
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