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‘Raghorn’ bull elk turns heads in northeast North Dakota

A raghorn bull elk soaks in the sun Tuesday afternoon near Manvel, N.D. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service

MANVEL, N.D. — It’s been in the area since last fall, by some reports, but a raghorn bull elk has been turning heads in recent days near Manvel, where a number of people have reported seeing it.

“I’ve heard (about) it three times today, already,” Jim Job, outreach biologist for the North Dakota Game and Fish Department in Grand Forks, said Tuesday morning. “Quite a few people have seen it.”

The elk, which hasn’t dropped its antlers, appears to be a 5x5 bull and was soaking in the sun in the middle of a snowy field Tuesday afternoon. Also known as “intermediate bulls,” raghorn elk have between one and six points on either side, according to Wiktionary.

While bull elk are cause for conversation, occasional sightings in the Red River Valley aren’t unheard of, Job said. There have been four or five bull elk sightings between Manvel and Larimore, N.D., and Oslo, Minn., since last summer, he said, and a UND student hit one in late November along U.S. Highway 2 near Petersburg, N.D. In October 2017, a driver hit and killed a young bull near the Grand Forks airport.

“We have had trail cam pictures and sightings of bull elk out of that Larimore area all the way to Grand Forks,” Job said. “It started last September; we had a bull right off the Oslo interchange” on Interstate 29.

Whether it’s the same bull as the one now near Manvel, about 13 miles north of Grand Forks, is hard to say, but it’s certainly possible. Most of the time, elk that wander into the Red River Valley are young bulls trying to find a home, Job said.

“I’m guessing most of them are kicked out of the (Pembina) Gorge, and their movement to wintering grounds is typically south of Highway 5,” Job said. “These ones just moved a bit further.”

Towns along Highway 5, which runs east to west across the state, include Hamilton, Cavalier and Langdon.

Anyone who encounters the elk — or any other wild critter — should keep a safe distance, Job advises.

“Definitely leave them alone,” he said. “They’re going through a pretty hard winter right now. Let them do their thing, and I guess if anything, report it to your local game warden if it’s out of the ordinary.”

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