I had the pleasure of getting to watch local wildlife conservation officer Doty McDowell sedate and perform a checkup on a bull in Benezette today. The bull being attended to was collared last year (if I recall correctly) as a spike and this year his rack has grown quite well into a 5×5. Upon examination the elk seemed to be in good health, maybe a bit thin, but overall within the normally acceptable ranges for an elk his age.
Having only watched these events from afar until now I was not aware of the methodical and caring manner in which the elk were treated. From a distance you really only see the elk being darted and then what seems to be chaotic dance of people around them. Up close you can see the genuine care these individuals display during the procedure as well as the organized approach they take to ensure both the safety of the animal and the integrity of their work.
I am extremely thankful to the officers involved for allowing me to be so close to the action and I can honestly say it has been a very enlightening experience.
Here are some photos I took.
^^You can see here the dart used to sedate the elk.
^^This is the part freaks me out every time. When the sedation takes effect the elk typically role to their side. It looks in this photo way worse than it is, but still every time I see it I find it unsettling.
^^Here the bull was just starting to actually fade to sleep. The blindfold is there keep him from seeing all the commotion around him and helps to keep him calm.
^^Checking the elks collar and vitals.
^^Double checking the elk prior to waking it.
^^Giving him the shot to wake him up.
^^After the checkup was over the fella popped up and seemed no worse for the ware. The conservation officers stuck around a while to insure he was fine and then proceeded on to look for another elk to work with.