Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Super Bowl XLVII: 49ers, Ravens and Elk?

Okay, so what do elk and Sunday’s unofficial American sports holiday have in common? At first glance not much, unless you perhaps have plans to throw some backstraps on the barbecue. But then again, it all depends on who you talk to. 

A recent Sports Illustrated report fingered Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis as using a performance enhancer in the form of deer antler velvet spray, which contains a prohibited substance called IFG-1, to speed up his recovery from a torn triceps earlier in the season.

So what’s the deal with IFG-1 and what is its link to elk? The National Geographic Daily News reports the disputed substance is made from male deer antlers during the stage when the antlers are covered in soft fuzz. Antler velvet is basically an insulin-like growth hormone. Growth hormones are naturally produced by the brain and liver, and regulate how our bodies grow. IFG-1 supposedly helps heal cartilage and tendon injuries more quickly and also boosts strength and endurance. New Zealand is home to more than 2,800 farms that contain approximately 1.1 million deer. And remember that “deer” in New Zealand really means red deer or a red deer-elk hybrid.

Red Deer
While Lewis denies using the spray, Vijay Singh, a member of the World Golf Hall of Fame, does not. In fact, he just admitted using it and dropped out of a tournament claiming he didn’t know it was banned by the PGA Tour. The SI report also linked the deer spray supplement to New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and even to members of the NCAA college football champion Alabama Crimson Tide.

So whether elk play a part in Sunday’s Super Bowl, who really knows? If you don’t see it on the field, check the barbecue.

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