A Vancouver Island elk entangled in a mess of rope, mesh, wire and branches might not make it through the winter if it can’t shed the debris soon, experts say.

The massive elk, which locals have nicknamed “monster mesh,” has achieved notoriety after being spotted wandering around the small community of Youbou for months.

He was seen entangled in mesh as far back as four months ago, but officials haven’t yet been able to track down and free the animal.

“He’s just an elusive bandit,” said Wilderness Watch coordinator Denis Martel. “He’s out there and one minute he’s there, the next minute he’s gone.”

But there is growing concern for the bull’s life when he loses his antlers over the new few months.

“They don’t shed the antlers together, or very rarely do they do that,” said Martel. “So he’ll be having one of them down and then he’ll have a second one that’s still there, so he’ll be pulling this other one, or dragging it with him, and he could impale himself, trip over something, and then those spears get him too.”

There is also worry that the debris accumulating on the elk’s antlers has moved lower on his face, making it tougher for him to see, and could eventually impair his ability to eat if he isn’t disentangled soon.

“It’s the way it’s all wrapped up in there, it really makes it difficult for him. I’m surprised he’s lasted as long as he has,” said Wilderness Watch volunteer Noel Peters.

Conservation officers say they’ve been monitoring “monster mesh” since September and are avoiding tranquilizing him for fear it may cause too much stress or ultimately kill the animal.

COs have instead opted to take a wait-and-see approach.

“If he gets to a point where his mobility is really, really decreasing and it looks like he’s getting really thin and he’s not feeding very well, then we’ll take that step,” said Scott Norris of the BC Conservation Officer Service.

After the elk survived mating season, volunteers say they’ll try to keep tabs on him to monitor his health.

With a report from CTV Vancouver Island's Jessica Lepp