Rare white elk draws crowds in Sweden -- and a warning

Experts have warned people flocking to catch a glimpse of a rare white elk in Sweden have urged them to be cautious (AFP Photo/Tommy PEDERSEN) (TT News Agency/AFP)

Stockholm (AFP) - Experts on Tuesday urged sightseers flocking to catch a glimpse of a rare white elk in Sweden to take care, warning that the animal could be dangerous.

Video footage of the animal posted online has gone viral in recent days, prompting people to head for the central Varmland region where it was spotted.

"Elks can get irritated,...and then they're dangerous," said Goran Ericsson, a professor of animal ecology at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.

"I would advise people to keep their distance," he told AFP. A typical elk weighed between 400 and 600 kilos (880 to 1,320 pounds), he pointed out.

Authorities in the central Varmland region said Monday crowds of people had been following the elk in the forest and on private property, disturbing locals and nature lovers.

Local politician Hans Nilsson filmed the elk and posted the clip on his Facebook page.

The elk -- or moose, as they are called in the United States -- is completely white, even its antlers, due to a recessive gene that is not uncommon among elks in the area, Ericsson said.

Between 50 and 100 elks in the region are white, and in all of Sweden there are around 1,000 white elks out of a total of 300,000 elks.