Game wardens pull a 23-hour shift to save huge bull elk

Game wardens pull a 23-hour shift to save huge bull elk

Outdoors

Game wardens pull a 23-hour shift to save huge bull elk

Two Washington game wardens went “above and beyond the call of duty” over the weekend when they pulled a 23-hour shift to save a huge elk that had gotten its antlers tangled in barbed wire in the Wenatchee area.

Officers Will Smith and Blake Tucker had already spent a long day working the opening of rifle deer season Saturday when a call came in around 9 p.m. about a 6×7 bull elk trapped in fence wire.

“They estimate the bull had been there for approximately two days as fence posts had been ripped out of the ground and the elk had wrapped its head tighter and tighter around a tree,” Sgt. Dan Klump of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife told BNQT.

“To safely remove the wire from the elk’s antlers they had to sedate it. They knew that when they sedated the elk they would take on the responsibility to ensure the elk’s safety as coyotes howled in the distance, and [they needed] to monitor the elk so pressures on its lungs did not suffocate it.”

The wardens used logs and sticks to prop the elk up to prevent its lungs from collapsing. Klump said they also rolled the elk over several times to get it to burp the gases building up in its stomach. A blanket over the elk’s head helped keep it calm throughout the process.

They took turns being with the elk and warming up in their rigs.

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The elk had gone into heavy sedation and the recovery time took much longer than anticipated.

“None of us expected it to be that long into the evening,” Klump told Northwest Sportsman.

At one point they thought the elk had expired because it had exhaled and didn’t inhale for a long while. Then it took a shallow breath.

“At about 4 a.m. the elk started to raise its head and they helped it stand up,” Klump told BNQT. “The elk walked away and began consuming grass, which was a good sign that it was going to be okay as it disappeared into the timber.

“Both officers had a 23-hour shift on the opening day of rifle deer season. I am very proud of their efforts to overcome this challenging call especially when they had already had a very long day. Their dedication and professionalism speaks volumes of who they are as Fish and Wildlife Police Officers.

“[They] went above and beyond the call of duty to protect our natural resources and the public they serve.”

Photos provided by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

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