Arizona Game and Fish Department officers darted Bambo with a tranquilizer gun to remove the wire wig he’d fashioned for himself after getting some type of fencing tangled in his antlers.
Those darn elk.
Always into some mischief.
But even by elk standards — Bambo had a problem.
He showed up in a Pine Ridge neighborhood about a week ago, decked out like a drunk reindeer on New Year’s Eve.
He had yards of wire wrapped around his antlers, decorated with streamers of duct tape and aluminum foil. The wire went every which way — looping around his neck, cutting across his ear, dangling down around his legs.
And that worried Don Shirk, who has watched the big elk and his buddies making a dawn and dusk commute past his picture window for at least a year and a half.
Neighbors had dubbed him Bambo — picture Sylvester Stallone in the title role as Bambi — a member of a local herd prone to posing for pictures and and gobbling gardens.
And that would be where Bambo went wrong.
“It looked like he’d gotten into a wire fence someone put up to protect a garden — with foil and tape flapping in the wind to scare off the animals,” said Shirk.
Alarmed, Shirk called assorted state and federal agencies.
Arizona Game and Fish Department game wardens initially didn’t want to risk darting Bambo, worried he would run off into the forest and hurt himself as a result of the slow-acting tranquilizer.
However, a couple of days later they called back with news that game managers working on a project to keep elk from getting hit while crossing Highway 260 up toward Kohl’s Ranch had a new, fast-acting drug.
So a Game and Fish guy set up along the trail Bambo used every day and deftly darted him Monday.
Down went Bambo.
The Game and Fish guy then unwrapped the Christmas tree festoon of wire.
Then mindful of the start of bow-hunting season in about two weeks, he attached some red and yellow tags to Bambo’s ears.
The red tags warn hunters not to eat the meat, since it would take two months to clear the tranquilizer from Bambo’s system. The second tag asked anyone who shot him — or found his body — to notify Game and Fish.
And then — indignity of indignities — they cut off Bambo’s antlers so as to make him less appealing to wandering hunters.
Fortunately, the mating season is winding down — so Bambo won’t need the antlers to impress any fleet-footed females who wander away from the harem groups jealously guarded by the big bulls.
Elk have those ponderous antlers mostly to fight off competing males and impress the heck out of the ladies. They devote themselves so enthusiastically to mating, that a big bull can lose 40 percent of his body weight by the time the lady folk have had enough and wander off to spend the rest of the year in sociable female groups.
Young males like Bambo lurk about at the edge of the harem, hoping some wandering female takes pity on them.
But Bambo won’t impress any females this year — with only half an antler on one side to brag on.
Still, Shirk said the distinctly less festive Bambo looked contented enough Thursday morning, when he showed up again on his familiar path — amiable but lopsided.