It is a picture as stunning as it is astonishing.
Look closely. Those are two Tule Elk, spinning in synchrony while hanging from a helicopter across a sun-kissed sky.
The wild animals, tied up, eyes covered, and hoisted high are likely left wondering what in the world is happening.
This stunning scene was repeated again and again over the weekend.
In total, the California Department of Fish and Game relocated 79 Tule Elk this way – by helicopter.
All in an effort to help the animal’s population get bigger and stronger.
It’s a helicopter relocation show.
Fish and Wildlife’s Peter Tira says, never grows old.
California Department of Fish and Game Peter Tira says, “It is incredible, you just don’t see anything like that.”
Tira says the animals are monitored closely by veterinary staff while they are moved high overhead.
Tira says, “We’re applying water, and sometimes there is ice to keep the animal cool, reduce stress, and so they are monitored the entire way, and its all about being quick and fast to minimize the stress.”
A native California species once believed extinct, a single Tule Elk herd was located in the late 1800’s.
It’s has been carefully brought back to strength and the species is now up to 6000 elk in 22 herds.
Several of the Tule Elk moved this weekend, were relocated to a herd in San Joaquin County.
Tira says, “They are truly one of the great wildlife success stories in California.”
Wildlife success – not without a few wild rides.
Wildlife workers have been using helicopters to relocate elk since the 1970s.
But this was the first relocation in the past four years.