Colorado wildlife officials have finally freed an elk that has had a tire wrapped around its neck for at least two years, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) said in a press release.
The 4-year-old, 270-kilogram bull elk was spotted near Denver Saturday and tranquilized. Part of the antlers were cut off in the removal process. When adding up the weight of the tire, the antlers, and the approximately 4 kg of pine needles and other debris inside the tire, it's estimated the elk lost about 16 kilograms of weight.
Trail camera picture from July 12, 2020 near Conifer, Colorado. (Dan Jaynes/CPW)
Officials first spotted the elk in July 2019 while conducting a population survey of bighorn sheep and mountain goats in the area.
“I am just grateful to be able to work in a community that values our state’s wildlife resource,” Dawson Swanson, one of the wildlife officers who helped remove the tire, said in a statement.
“I was able to quickly respond to a report from a local resident regarding a recent sighting of this bull elk in their neighborhood. I was able to locate the bull in question along with a herd of about 40 other elk.”
Scott Murdoch, Swanson's partner, said the removal was "tight," even after cutting the antlers off.
“It was not easy for sure, we had to move it just right to get it off because we weren’t able to cut the steel in the bead of the tire. Fortunately, the bull’s neck still had a little room to move," Murdoch said.
Wildlife officers Scott Murdoch (left) and Dawson Swanson (right) hold up the tire that was on this bull elk for over two years (Pat Hemstreet/CPW)
“We would have preferred to cut the tire and leave the antlers for his rutting activity, but the situation was dynamic, and we had to just get the tire off in any way possible.”
The elk didn't appear to be suffering any physical distress from the presence of the tire, Murdoch said.
“The hair [on its neck] was rubbed off a little bit, there was one small open wound maybe the size of a nickel or quarter, but other than that, [the neck] looked really good. I was actually quite shocked to see how good it looked.”
Officials have made several unsuccessful attempts to perform a rescue. But fall is breeding season, which likely helped, as elk tend to be more visible this time of year.
BEING MINDFUL OF WILDLIFE
"The saga of this bull elk highlights the need for residents to live responsibly with wildlife in mind," CPW says.
"That includes keeping your property free of obstacles that wildlife can get tangled in or injured by. Wildlife officers have seen deer, elk, moose, bears and other wildlife become entangled in a number of man-made obstacles that include swing sets, hammocks, clothing lines, decorative or holiday lighting, furniture, tomato cages, chicken feeders, laundry baskets, soccer goals or volleyball nets, and yes, tires."