Had the reporter ever heard elk bugling he probably would have caught the error. A bugling elk is hard to forget, as is someone imitating an elk by applying what looks like a radiator hose to their lips and proceeding to make a series of whistling, gasping, alien sounds that would seem designed to attract a steam engine.
Whether or not you or I are attracted to the sound of a bugling elk is beside the point. Other elk find it well worth their notice, and this mating call seems to be working. Idaho has an abundance of elk. In 1935, when the Idaho began keeping records, there were 1,821 elk harvested in the state. That was three years before the citizen initiative that created the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, so there were likely some elk taken that weren’t counted. Elk harvest today is more than ten times that number, with 20,532 taken in 2019 of an estimated 120,000 elk in the state.
Not a few of those were lured to their demise by someone playing a weird tune on a modified radiator hose.
Elk numbers are likely much higher today than they were when Lewis and Clark trekked through what would become Idaho. Elk are creatures that like grassy, open spaces with trees nearby where they can quickly disappear. Such spaces have opened considerably by logging the past 150 years or so.