Elk NetworkWandering Bull Suffers Deadly Fate Far from Home

General | December 15, 2023

This is not how a love story is supposed to end. A four-year-old bull elk raised a lot of eyebrows during a high-profile journey looking for love. He started his wandering ways during breeding season near Black River Falls, Wisconsin, but died some 300 miles to the south after getting hit by a semi-trailer truck southwest of Chicago.

“He’s kind of a wild bull looking for a mate, so he obviously attempted a lot of different areas and was searching for a new one,” Christina Kizewski, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) biologist, told Wisconsin Public Radio. ” This type of movement was slightly unusual. That being said, we do receive a handful of reports every fall of these kinds of transient bulls — typically they’re less dominant, maybe younger bulls that haven’t quite staked their claim to breeding rights, to the cows in the associated herd.”

Wild, free-ranging elk returned to their historic Wisconsin range in 1995, thanks to a restoration effort by the DNR and the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. They had been wiped out more than 130 years earlier because of habitat loss and unregulated hunting. Today, there are two herds numbering about 550 total animals. One is near Black River Falls while the other is about 150 miles to the north near Clam Lake.

Both of the communities are relatively remote but as the young bull headed south, it encountered a larger human population and many sightings along the way, as captured by this WKOW-TV report.

Unfortunately, taking that southern route forced the animal to unsuccessfully negotiate more roads and busy highways.

“This is a disappointing day,” Eric Lobner, DNR wildlife management program director, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

(Photo credit: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)