Somewhere east of this Cariboo community wanders an enormous bull elk, stripped of its crown of six-point antlers and a misplaced attraction for one of Greg Messner’s cows.
The elk, a loner that had been turning up at the century-old 100 Mile Ranch to check out Messner’s herd for three years, was relocated earlier this month for its own safety and for the probity of the cow.
“He stuck around for a couple of days the first year,” said Mr. Messner, whose wife has had the ranch in her family for its entire history.
“Then last year, he was just hanging around again for a couple of weeks and not really doing anything, just hanging around and looking at the cows. This year, he decided to go for it.”
Mr. Messner said the elk’s visits have been a curiosity. Elk are so rare in the area that Mr. Messner and anyone else who stopped by to have a look at the impressive creature in the pasture simply call it The Elk.
“It’s kind of like the Queen,” Mr. Messner explained. “There’s only one of them.”
This year, the beast decided to stay a while and ended up mingling in the herd for about two months during its rutting season.
One of Mr. Messner’s cows was also in heat and the pair became a freakish but constant spectacle.
“If you were there watching, it would be an X-rated movie. Several times a day,” Mr. Messner said through a chuckle.
“He was pretty aggressive. He’d put his head down with his great big antlers and poke the little calves and push them away and send them for a little ride once in a while and flick them around.”
Mr. Messner estimated the elk at about six feet tall and four feet wide and weighing about half a tonne.
He said he finally called a biologist at the University of Northern British Columbia after inquiries from neighbours about whether his cow could have been impregnated by the elk.
“He had a huge rack, but he was too well-endowed by chromosomes,” Mr. Messner said.
Mr. Messner was told an elk has eight more chromosomes than a cow, making the likelihood of a hybrid calf a near impossibility.
But it wasn’t the amorous nature of the elk that finally prompted Mr. Messner to break up what he called “the harem” in his pasture.
The ranch is bordered by the highway and cars were stopping as passengers tried to get a look at the amorous ungulate, which from time to time would hop from one side of the pasture fence to the other.
Mr. Messner said the final straw was when hunters turned up, the lure of a six-point rack potentially dangerously enticing.
“Trucks were pulling over and people were watching this poor elk through the scope of their gun and people were doing U-turns on the highway. It was becoming a real dangerous situation.”
Mr. Messner called in the conservation officer. He, the officer and two RCMP officers sedated the elk and removed its antlers to make it less appealing to hunters and less of a threat to the cows should it decide to return.
The elk was then loaded into a truck and taken about 20 kilometres out of town, towards the mountains.
“I kind of think he will be back next year,” said Mr. Messner.