Famous Yellowstone Elk Likely Killed by Wolves

By Beacon Staff

BILLINGS — A Yellowstone National Park bull elk featured in a BBC film has died after likely being killed by a wolf pack.

Park officials confirmed Tuesday that elk No. 10 was found dead near the Wraith Falls trailhead Saturday. He was believed to be between 16 and 18, a ripe old age for a male elk.

Gardiner, Mont.-based naturalist Jim Halfpenny told the Billings Gazette (http://bit.ly/13ScU7w ) that the elk “held court” in the Mammoth Hot Springs area starting in 2006, when he chased off another bull and took over a harem, or group of cows. No. 10 became famous after being included in the BBC film on the Mammoth elk, “Street Fighters.” Bulls are shown fighting with each other and chasing off tourists as well as cars with their antlers.

No. 10’s rival, No. 6, died in 2009 at an estimated age of 15 after jumping a barbed-wire fence in 2009. He tangled his feet and suffocated after getting stuck on his back.

“He had not been regularly seen in the Mammoth area in recent years,” park spokesman Al Nash said of No. 10. “But both No. 6 and No. 10 were fixtures for a time in Mammoth, both big powerful bulls that were seen several fall rutting seasons here and would spar with each other.”

No. 10 got his yellow numbered tag after being tranquilized and having its antlers sawed off in 2001 after getting caught in a badminton net at a school in Mammouth. The tag warned hunters that the animal’s meat was unsafe to eat because of the tranquilizer.

In recent years, Halfpenny said No. 10 maintained a smaller harem outside Mammouth.

“Being slightly old, wiser and lacking the body weight of his youth, it was now time to retreat to a more private place with a smaller harem,” Halfpenny, who gives tours in the park, said in an email.

Cow elk usually live into their teens but males generally live shorter lives because of the physical toll of the ongoing competition for mates.

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