After being nearly extirpated from the state of Minnesota in the early 1900’s, elk were brought back onto the landscape through restoration efforts beginning in 1913.
After appropriating funding for the restoration of elk in Minnesota, elk in the state of 10,000 lakes has been on a slow and cautious recovery since that time. Estimates completed as recently as 2016 completed by the state’s Department of Natural Resources indicate that there are roughly 130 elk roaming Minnesota.
On a routine dive at the bottom of Buffalo Lake in August, diver Gary Thompson uncovered a piece of Minnesota’s wildlife history. What he originally thought was a natural part of the underwater environment, turned out to be an elk antler from days past, measuring roughly five feet in length.
“I came across it, and it looked like a big root to start with,” Thompson told the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.
Given the obviously aged condition of the antler in conjunction with his knowledge of elk on the Minnesota landscape, Thompson set out to determine the age of the antler. Sending the ancient bone to a carbon dating lab in Florida, it was recently confirmed that the antler was approximately 500-years-old.
The report he received indicated that there was a 70 percent chance the antler he recovered from the bottom of the lake fell in the lake at some point between 1440 and 1532.
Surprisingly enough, this was not the first time ancient elk antlers had been retrieved from the depths of a Minnesota lake. According to reports, a diver uncovered a set of antlers in the bottom of Lake Carlos in 2007. The Science Museum of Minnesota estimated the set of antlers was even older than Thompson’s find and were between 2,000 and 12,000 years old.
Feature Image: Screenshot W Day ABC