After spending more than a month wandering the north Alabama woods during bow season, an elk/red deer hybrid, suspected to have escaped from a licensed Cullman County facility, was shot by conservation enforcement officers in Jackson County on Nov. 1.
North Alabama’s District 1 Law Enforcement Supervisor Capt. Johnny Johnson said Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries had been tracking the animal’s movements for more than a month through sightings and trail-camera photos as it moved through five counties in north Alabama.
“We were hoping a hunter would get a shot at it, and they tried,” said Capt. Johnson, “but they never were able to kill it.”
Capt. Johnson said the estimated 400-lb. animal was first reported in Cullman County near Hanceville, where he suspects it escaped from a licensed facility. He thinks it stayed in Cullman County for a week or so before moving north through Morgan County and across the Tennessee River into Limestone County. The young bull may have stayed for as long as two weeks in Limestone County before traveling around Huntsville into north Madison County, possibly into Tennessee and back south to cross into Jackson County near Gurley.
The animal crossed major highways at least twice before officers Luke Lemley and Joe Lindsey shot it near U.S. Highway 72, where it had torn up a farmer’s fencing.
Capt. Johnson said he would have preferred if a hunter had harvested the animal, which would have been legal, but that the officers made the right decision with the a 400-lb., pen-raised animal so close to the four-lane.
“They took into consideration the highway traffic,” said Capt. Johnson. “It could kill someone on the road.”
The animal’s head will be tested for chronic wasting disease, which Johnson suspects will come back negative.