Wildlife officials in Colorado have said that an elusive elk that had been wandering the hills for at least two years with a car tyre around its neck, has finally been freed.
According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the four-and-a-half-year-old, 270kg (600lb) bull elk was seen near Pine Junction, south-west of Denver, on Saturday evening. It was the fourth time in the last week that wildlife officials had attempted to catch and assist it.
Officers with the agency had to cut off the elk’s five-point antlers to remove the object because they couldn’t slice through the steel in the bead of the tyre.
“We would have preferred to cut the tyre and leave the antlers for his rutting activity, but the situation was dynamic and we had to just get the tyre off in any way possible,” officer Scott Murdoch said.
With the tyre, antlers, and debris within the tyre removed, Murdoch and partner officer Dawson Swanson believed the elk was freed of approximately 16kg (35lb).
“I am just grateful to be able to work in a community that values our state’s wildlife resource,” Swanson said. “I was able to quickly respond to a report from a local resident regarding a recent sighting of this bull elk in their neighbourhood. I was able to locate the bull in question along with a herd of about 40 other elk.”
After two years of chafing, Swanson and Murdoch were surprised to find its neck in excellent shape. Murdoch said “The hair was rubbed off a little bit, there was one small open wound maybe the size of a nickel or quarter, but other than that it looked really good. I was actually quite shocked to see how good it looked.”
Murdoch said“The rut definitely made him more visible. There was a bigger bull in the group he was with on Saturday, but he is getting to be a decent size bull.”
The elk was originally seen in the Mount Evans Wilderness in July 2019 while performing a population census for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and mountain goats. It’s been travelling back and forth between Park and Jefferson counties for the last several years.
They say they have seen deer, elk, moose, bears and other wildlife become entangled in a number of items, including swing sets, hammocks, clotheslines, decorative or holiday lighting, furniture, tomato cages, chicken feeders, laundry baskets, soccer goals and volleyball nets.