Wildlife officials in Colorado say an elusive elk that has been wandering the hills with a car tire around its neck for at least two years has finally been freed of the obstruction. The elk was spotted in July of 2019 with the cumbersome necktie but evaded capture until Saturday night, CBS Denver reports.
The 4-and-a-half-year-old, 600-pound bull elk was spotted near Pine Junction, southwest of Denver, on Saturday evening and tranquilized, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Officers with the agency had to cut off the elk's five-point antlers to remove the encumbrance because they couldn't slice through the steel in the bead of the tire.
"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," officer Scott Murdoch said.
Murdoch and fellow officer Dawson Swanson estimated the elk shed about 35 pounds with the removal of the tire, the antlers and debris inside the tire.
"The tire was full of wet pine needles and dirt," Murdoch said. "So the pine needles, dirt and other debris basically filled the entire bottom half of the tire. There was probably 10 pounds of debris in the tire."
Swanson had tried and failed four times in the past week to get within tranquilizing range, CBS Denver reported. This time, Swanson drove ahead of the pack to a neighbor's property and estimated where the elk might cross a road. They did and he successfully darted the bull.
"It was not until shortly before dark that everything came together and I was able to hit the bull with the dart," Dawson stated in a CPW press release. "Once the bull was hit with the dart, the entire herd headed back into the thick timber."
The elk's neck was in good condition after the tire and antlers were removed, 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," Murdoch said of the bull's neck. "I was actually quite shocked to see how good it looked."
Wildlife officers first spotted the elk with the tire around its neck in July 2019 while conducting a population survey for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and mountain goats in the Mount Evans Wilderness.
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.
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