A video showing a bull elk with a bra hanging from its antlers is currently circulating on social media, and although this particular animal seems unbothered by its unusual accessory, it's a reminder that wildlife can easily become snared in items left behind by campers.
In the clip, which you can watch below, the elk is grazing at the roadside while the piece of clothing hangs in its face. The animal appears unfazed, but not all wildlife is so lucky.
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According to the National Park Service, entanglement and ingestion are the two biggest dangers litter poses to marine wildlife. "Entanglement results when an animal becomes encircled or ensnared by debris," it explains. "Some entanglement occurs when the animal is attracted to the debris as part of its normal behavior or out of curiosity."
If they become entangled, animals can be strangled, or suffer wounds that can become infected. Entanglement can also limit an animal's movements, reducing its ability to feed, swim, or escape predators.
Fishing lines can be a particular issue if left unattended – and not just to fish. In November last year, park rangers in the Florida Everglades rescued an owl that had become tangled in a line while attempting to land.
Park visitor Lester Shalloway spotted the bird, which was in distress, and reported it to officials. "It was wrapped I don’t know how many times around the wing," he said, "and it was just stuck between a branch on top, and the bird just couldn’t untangle it.
"A guy probably cast it across the little pond and caught it in the tree and just cut the line and just left it there. There was a lot of line all over the place."
Tarps and guy lines can also be a hazard. Earlier this year, state wildlife officers came to the rescue to a young elk that had become tangled in a tarp and stuck in a water-filled ditch. "The tarp was so twisted that wildlife officers ended up cutting it with a knife on a pole near his face to relieve his nose and mouth," officials said.
Even string lights can pose a danger. Last year, Alberta Fish and Wildlife officers were alerted to a deer with a string of Christmas lights wrapped around its antlers. Banff National Park issued a warning advising residents and visitors to keep lights out of reach of wildlife to prevent accidents.
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Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 15 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better), usually wearing at least two sports watches.