Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Quiet rut in Yellowstone Park after death of famous car-charging elk

November 2, 2009, 7:47 am
Visitors to northern Yellowstone National Park have been filing a lot fewer unusual auto damage claims during this fall's elk mating season compared to recent years.

The reason is last winter's demise of elk No. 6, a large bull with sprawling antlers that was famous for attacking tourists' cars in the Mammoth area while strutting his stuff during mating season. No. 6 caused thousands of dollars in damage to cars over the years and even attacked two tourists, knocking one down and causing the other to need stitches.

No. 6 was found dead just north of Yellowstone in February. He had tripped over a fence, flipped onto his back and suffocated while pinned between boulders, Yellowstone officials said.

The rut, or mating season, in northern Yellowstone began in late August and has just about ended. There have been relatively few reports of elk attacking cars this year.

"It was certainly eerily calm this fall compared to when No. 6 was around," said Yellowstone elk biologist P.J. White.

There was speculation after the death of No. 6 that elk No. 10 - another large bull known by the number on his ear tag - would become the local king of elk. But that hasn't happened. No. 10 and his harem of cow elk have kept a mile or two south of Mammoth, away from a lot of the mating drama.

A couple young bulls have been up-and-comers during this year's rut. Neither, however, has been as feisty as No. 6 or even No. 10.