Bull Tule Elk with Baling Twine Caught in Antlers

Photo of a bull tule elk with baling twine caught in his antlers.

Tule Elk Bull, Limantour Herd; Point Reyes National Seashore

This 7-point bull is the largest I’ve seen so far this fall in that portion of the Limantour herd that uses the D Ranch near Drake’s Beach.   About an hour after this photo was taken I saw him again and he was limping.  I think he had been a in a fight.  What I want to point out in this photo, however, is that he has some baling twine caught in his antlers.  Here is a closer view of the baling twine.

Close-up photo of a bull tule elk with baling twine caught in his antlers.

Cropped photo showing baling twine caught in antlers; Point Reyes National Seashore

Baling twine and baling wire, which are used to bale hay, cause many unnecessary injuries and deaths each year to wildlife.  Animals manage to get their legs, talons and other body parts tangled in it.  To read an article about its dangers click here.  The next time this bull scrapes ground cover some of it will get caught in the twine and some of it may cover the animals face, including its eyes.  Depending on its breaking strength, it may also tie the bull to a fence or a piece of vegetation that the bull can’t break or it may hold two bulls together when they try to break from a fight.  Tensile strength is in the hundreds of pounds.  Other species, such as ospreys, are attracted to it for nest-building material.  There are reported cases of ospreys being killed when flying with a long piece of it dangling from their talons.  The trailing piece gets caught in a tree limb as a bird flies over it and the bird dies either immediately or over a long time if it can’t free itself of the twine.  If it makes it into the nest it can cause death there as well.  To see what can happen at a nest site click here.  It reminds me of monofilament fishing line which thoughtless fishermen discard.  Monofilament is even used for some baling products.  If you see discarded baling twine please collect it and dispose of it properly.  Included in that is cutting it into small pieces so it doesn’t become dangerous again on the surface of a landfill.

Baling twine is now being manufactured that decomposes over time.  While this is a step in the right direction, it doesn’t break down for over a year.

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About Jim Coda

I am a nature photographer living in the San Francisco Bay Area. I specialize in photos of birds, mammals, and landscapes.
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4 Responses to Bull Tule Elk with Baling Twine Caught in Antlers

  1. John says:

    That’s really interesting, Jim. I didn’t know that about baling wire. I didn’t see this bull when I was out there last weekend, or at least not at close enough range to make out this much detail. It seemed like a lot of the hay bales I saw out there were wrapped up in something like plastic shrinkwrap.

    • Jim Coda says:

      Hi John. Yes, I’ve seen what you’re talking about across the road from the North Ranger Station. That would seem to be a safer product.

  2. Pat Ulrich says:

    This really is an impressive bull. Past his sheer size and rack, he was really keeping up his dominance even with a fairly substantial limp. I saw him mating with females, chasing off rival males, and quite frequently bugling to nearby harems. Sad news about the bailing wire and its dangers to wildlife, though. And something I hadn’t thought about before as an interesting problem for Point Reyes, since it has such a large agricultural presence. When did you take this shot? I saw this bull (based on the location and the fact that he was limping) during the late morning last Thursday, and he did not have the wire on his antlers at that time. Hopefully that means he was able to get it off.

    • Jim Coda says:

      Hi Pat. The photo was taken on August 9 around noon. I take it you saw him on August 11. So, he seems to have gotten rid of the twine. That’s good to hear.

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