The elk were locked together, most likely due to conflict. If they had not been found, both would have met certain death, as they either die of exhaustion and hypothermia, or starvation, or a combination of both. It is not uncommon to find one or both animals dead. I have the sequence of photos saved, that shows the freed bull walking away.
I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, stranger, I am ungrateful to these teachers.