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Scientists: Elk drunk on fermented apples a myth

Swedish scientists say elk are too heavy to get drunk from eating apples, despite yearly news stories blaming strange elk behavior on fermented fruit intoxication.

By Ben Hooper
Scientists: Elk drunk on fermented apples a myth
A male elk in Sweden. Scientists say the animals can't get drunk from eating fermented apples, despite claims in past news reports. (CC/Malene Thyssen)

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Sept. 24 (UPI) -- A group of Swedish scientists said stories of elk getting up to hijinks while drunk on fermented apples are based on urban legend.

Petter Kjellander, a professor at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and about a dozen other scientists told Sveriges Radio elk can't actually get drunk off fermented apples because their large bodies balance out the amount of alcohol in the fruit.

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"I must confess, I'm not an elk expert, but I am a professor in wildlife in ecology and I know some stuff about them," Kjellander told The Local. "The thing is, if something had been proven then I would have seen it. It's just a rumor, as far as I can tell, no trustworthy source has ever shown it to be true."

Kjellander said the animals appearing in yearly news stories of elk wandering into residential areas are actually a result of the elk losing their fear of humans rather than being intoxicated on fermented fruit.

"In the fall in Sweden, the elks simply show up. Apples are attractive to them, so it's no surprise they go for them. I think there's a natural explanation to all this that doesn't involve alcohol," Kjellander said.

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