Outdoor Media News

Famous Documentary Elk Killed by Wolves in Yellowstone

no. 10

Although he was known to filmmakers and audiences simply as No. 10, this old bull elk was recognized by many as an international symbol for Yellowstone National Park. According to The Billings Gazette, his tenure as a celebrity monarch came to a close when wardens found that the elk had been brought down by a pack of wolves.

First “discovered” by the British Brodcasting Corporation (BBC) during a documentary on animals living in the area, No. 10 rose to prominence as a powerful bull. Following his rise was another rival male, No. 6. In their youth the two bulls fought often for harems of females and mating privileges. Their lives were caught on video for documentaries such as Showdown in Elk Town where the two bulls would often bring their grudge matches into nearby urban areas. Eventually though, old age caught up with No. 10, who was estimated to be 18 years old at the time of his death.

“I remember in 2006 when Elk 10 arrived on the Mammoth scene on Sept. 10,” wrote naturalist Jim Halfpenny. “He was big and took the harem over from another bull. In the coming years, he and Elk 6 did battle on more than one occasion. In more recent years he did not come into Mammoth, but maintained a harem of his own between the YCC camp and Mammoth Terraces. Being slightly old, wiser, and lacking the body weight of his youth, it was now time to retreat to a more private place with a smaller harem. He let the younger bulls compete for the prime grazing habitat of Mammoth and the cows that are attracted there.”

His rival No. 6 died in 2009 when the bull tried to jump a barbed-wire fence and failed. The animal was caught on the barbs and died a slow, inglorious death. Elk live an average of 10 to 13 years in the wild, with males having a drastically shorter lifespan. Very few make it into their 20s. With the demise of his rival, No. 10 seemingly withdrew from social life and the highly contested ground of Mammoth.

Sadly, his story came to an end last Saturday, half a mile east of Wraith Falls. It is believed that the large bull was killed by the Canyon wolf pack, which were last seen feasting on his carcass. Those who had gotten to know him fondly recall times when No. 10 harried tourists and small automobiles in the town of Estes, Colorado every summer during his prime.

You can see some of No. 10’s antics below. He is the one with the characteristic No. 10 yellow tag.

Image from BBC on the flickr Creative Commons

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  • Mitch King

    Great story about the Yellowstone bull, but in the last paragraph, the author and the video puts him in Colorado. Interesting migration pattern!

    • Daniel Xu

      I found that interesting as well. I believe Yellowstone elk do have one of the longest migrations in the country, but Colorado is curious.

  • James

    Male Lions have a shorter life and eventually die by being brought down by Hyena’s….natures way of “recycling” all of animal life. Some must die so other can exist. Never easy to see an animal die and everyone everywhere wants to “make a connection” with animal life….only to learn they are ANIMALS not humans! lol..lol..

  • http://www.facebook.com/tom.reichner.73 Tom Reichner

    It’s great that a dominant bull got to live so long! I’m sure that his genes will live on throughout the Yellowstone ecosystem.

    I am confused about something. The writer said,

    “Those who had gotten to know him fondly recall times when No. 10 harried tourists and small automobiles in the town of Estes, Colorado every summer during his prime.”

    Yet, #10 lived in Yellowstone, which is ‘way up on the Wyoming/Idaho/Montana border, several hundred miles from Estes Park, Colorado. Elk do not migrate that far, so . . . what is meant by that statement about summertime in Estes Park? Is it simply an erroneous paragraph in an otherwise well-written article?

    • Daniel Xu

      My sources place the elk in both locations at different times in his life. I’m not entirely sure how this came about. Perhaps a helping hand from humans?

  • fishunter

    The videographers need to study a map and take a geography class. If and how many wolves reside in Colorado seems to be a secret. I figure it is only a matter of time before wolves move in or are moved in, and they start working-over the wild life.