In 2019, wildlife officers first sighted an elk sporting an unlikely (and uncomfortable) ornament around its neck—a car tire.
The wildlife officers happened upon the elusive elk while conducting a population survey for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and mountain goats in the Mount Evans Wilderness. Since then, officers have been trying to locate the elk and temporarily restrain it in order to remove the obstruction from its neck, but it wasn’t until the evening of Saturday, October 9 that they were able to free the now four-and-a-half-year-old, 270kg (600lb) bull elk from its annoying accessory.
According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife, the bull elk was spotted and tranquilized near Pine Junction, southwest of Denver. It was the fourth attempt wildlife officers had made that week alone to capture and help him. Unfortunately, the officers found it impossible to slice through the steel in the bead of the tire, so instead, they had to cut off the elk’s impressive five-point antlers to remove it.
“We would have preferred to cut the tire and leave the antlers for his rutting activity,” says officer Scott Murdoch, “but the situation was dynamic, and we had to just get the tire off in any way possible.”
Another officer, Dawson Swanson, said: “I am just grateful to be able to work in a community that values our state’s wildlife resources. 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.”
Swanson and Murdoch reported that the bull elk’s neck was in a rather good condition considering the two years of chafing it had sustained. The two officers estimate that the bull elk was relieved of about 16kg (35lb) of tire and debris trapped inside the tire.
“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.”
While we celebrate the freedom of this elk, more wildlife has been seen tangled in man-made objects, which only highlights the dire problem of pollution and irresponsible disposal of trash. Wildlife officers report also seeing deer, moose, bears, and other creatures entangled in swing sets, hammocks, clotheslines, decorative or holiday lighting, furniture, tomato cages, chicken feeders, laundry baskets, soccer goals, volleyball nets, and more.
Source image: CPW NE Region