Watch a slide show of the rescue.
When Charlie Messerly and his family were driving one evening, the last thing he expected was to be involved in a life-saving rescue. That changed quickly for the staffer from the Conservancy's Matador Ranch when he spotted a young bull elk that had become hopelessly entangled in a barb wire fence. Pronghorn often fall victim to fences since they aren't well-designed for jumping them. But, young deer and elk are often stymied as well when they're too small or inexperienced to clear the hurdles created by the miles of fence that crisscross the grasslands. Even adults can get their legs entangled in a top wire that's too high or too loose. The result can be a slow and agonizing death as they unsuccessfully try to free themselves. Lucky for this calf, the Messerly's came along before it was too late. With patience and a handy wire cutter, Charlie was able to calm the animal and clip the wire that had snared its leg. Clearly stunned and exhausted by the struggle, it took the calf nearly an hour to regain its equilibrium before trotting off to join its mother who was waiting just over the hill.
Charlie quickly summarized his feelings...and the elk's, "What an experience!"
The Nature Conservancy of Montana is leading an effort to remove and modify fences to prevent them from blocking animal movements across Montana's vast Northern Prairies. Learn moreAugust 30, 2011