An elusive bull elk with a car tire trapped around its neck has been freed of the heavy burden, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials. The elk had been extremely difficult to capture and has evaded rangers attempting to help it for two years, but after residents spotted him near County Road 126, wildlife officers Dawson Swanson and Scott Murdoch managed to tranquilize the elk and remove the tire.
“I am just grateful to be able to work in a community that values our state’s wildlife resource,” Swanson said in a news release.
“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.”
The elk weighed in at a hefty 272 kilograms (600 pounds) and had an impressive antler set, making removing the tire a difficult feat. The rangers decided to remove the antlers to displace the tire.
“It was tight removing it,” Murdoch said. “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."
Don’t worry about the elk though – the antlers will grow back next year in time for mating season, while the lack of antlers will also reduce the chance the elk is killed. At just four and a half years old, the elk certainly deserves some time burden-free.
For the past few years, the elk had been on the move, disappearing and reappearing for long periods of time during the winter and avoiding human presence. Alongside elks' propensity to travel in herds, this made capturing it incredibly difficult.
“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,” Murdoch said.
“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.”
By the time he was tranquilized and the tire was removed, the tire had accumulated a huge amount of wet debris, and in total 16 kilograms (35 pounds) was removed from the elk.
“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.”
However, the neck was in relativley good condition considering the chafing for two years. “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 told the Guardian. “I was actually quite shocked to see how good it looked.