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79 Tule Elk Moved By Helicopter In Stunning Relocation

SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY (CBS13) — The California Department of Fish and Wildlife performed the incredible mission over the past weekend, relocating Tule Elk using a helicopter.

Against a cloud-filled backdrop, the move is as stunning as it is astonishing. One clip shows 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. The scene was repeated again and again over the weekend.

In total, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife relocated 79 Tule Elk this way, by helicopter.

It's a relocation show, Fish and Wildlife Department's Peter Tira says, never grows old.

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"It is incredible, you just don't see anything like that," Tira said.

Tira says the animals are monitored closely by veterinary staff while they are moved high overhead.

"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 it's all about being quick and fast to minimize the stress," Tira said.

A native California species once believed extinct, a single Tule Elk herd was located in the late 1800s. The species has been carefully brought back to strength.  It is now up to 6000 elk in 22 herds.

Several of the Tule Elk moved over the weekend, were relocated to a herd in San Joaquin County.

"They are truly one of the great wildlife success stories in California," Tira said.

Tira said the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have been relocating Tule Elk using helicopters and other methods since 1975. Although this was the first relocation in the past four years.

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