• Steam rises off of the colorful Mammoth Hot Springs Terraces. Photo courtesy Jacob W. Frank


    National Park ID,MT,WY

Accident Claims Life of Infamous Yellowstone Elk

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Date: February 11, 2009
Contact: Al Nash, 307-344-2015
Contact: Stacy Vallie, 307-344-2015

National Park Service

U.S. Department of the Interior


Yellowstone National Park

P.O. Box 168

Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190



February 11, 2009    09-007

Al Nash or Stacy Vallie (307) 344-2015






Accident Claims Life Of Infamous Yellowstone Elk


A bull elk well known to fall visitors to Mammoth Hot Springs has died as the result of a freak accident.

Number 6 with cow elk  Number 6 alone


The animal, known as “Number 6” due to his orange and black ear tag, was found dead Sunday night in Gardiner, Montana. 


Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks staff members believe the animal tripped while trying to cross a fence and somersaulted onto his back, where he was pinned between rocks with his antlers beneath him and suffocated.


A necropsy indicated that bull was at least 15 years old and weighed 725 pounds. Elk have an average life span of 13 to 18 years, with bulls typically topping the scales at 700 pounds. His rack, although diminished in size from previous years, still gross scored an impressive 356-5/8 on the Boone and Crockett scale.  At his peak, the animal would certainly have been considered a “trophy” by elk hunters.


Several large bulls with impressive antlers venture into Mammoth Hot Springs each fall to compete for the attention of cow elk during mating season. The aggressive behavior of these animals brings with it a threat to people and property. 


Number 6, and his regular sparring partner Number 10, were both ear tagged several years ago. Number 6 had his antlers removed in August 2004 and again in August 2005 in an effort to reduce the danger he posed to park visitors. Number 10 was last seen in the Mammoth Hot Springs area shortly after the rut concluded.


In the fall, a dedicated group of park staff and volunteers can be seen patrolling the Mammoth area, reminding visitors to stay at least 25 yards away from the animals. Those who fail to abide by this requirement not only put themselves in danger, they may also be subject to a citation and fine.


Park regulations require people to stay at least 25 yards away from most animals and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves at all times. Visitors desiring a closer look at animals should use binoculars, spotting scope, or the zoom lens on their still or video camera.


- www.nps.gov/yell -


Producers/Editors note: Publication quality versions of the images used in this news release are available upon request. 


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