A bull elk who has wandered around Colorado for the past two years with a tire around his neck is finally freed.
After four attempts to tranquilize the elk in one week, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officials were successful on Saturday evening.
Wildlife officers Dawson Swanson and Scott Murdoch were able to locate and tranquilize the elk after a resident spotted him in their neighborhood.
The elusive bull would disappear into the wilderness and not be seen for months. The elk was first spotted in July 2019 with the tire around his neck by wildlife officer Jared Lamb.
Murdoch explained in a press release why it took years to track down the elk. “Being up in the wilderness, we didn’t really expect to be able to get our hands on the elk just because of the proximity or the distance away from civilization. It is harder to get the further they are back in there and usually the further these elk are away from people, the wilder they act. That certainly played true the last couple of years, this elk was difficult to find, and harder to get close to.”
Over the years he was spotted a few times on trail cameras, but officials believe breeding season is what drew him in close enough to be caught.
The 600-pound elk is estimated to be four-and-a-half years old and has carried the tire around for at least half of his life.
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On Saturday evening the tire was finally removed along with the 10 pounds of debris inside it. The officers had no choice but to remove his antlers. But don’t worry he will grow new ones.
Bull elk shed their antlers every year in late winter and regrow them in the spring.
“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,” stated Murdoch.
He went on to say, “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.”
After the tire was removed, the officers were shocked to see that aside from a small wound and rub marks the elk appeared to be fine.
They administered a reversal shot to wake up the elk and sent him on his way.
CPW said, “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.”
They ask that residents “live responsibly with wildlife in mind.”