Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers removed the tire by safely cutting off the elk's antlers. They are expected to grow back next year.
Officers with Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) first spotted an elk with a tire around his neck in the year 2019. Since then, the department made numerous attempts to remove the tire, to no avail. On Saturday, wildlife rangers were finally able to free the elk. This was made possible after several months of tracking the elk and monitoring him, as CPW was concerned the animal would hurt himself. The four-year-old elk has now become somewhat of a celebrity online, with many social media users expressing concern for his wellbeing. The elk's antlers, which unfortunately had to be sawed off in order to remove the tire, will grow back next year, CNN reports.
Here is some video of this bull elk over the past two years. pic.twitter.com/R6t9nNPOyb— CPW NE Region (@CPW_NE) October 11, 2021
CPW first announced the successful removal of the tire in a Twitter post. The department wrote, "The saga of the bull elk with a tire around its neck is over. Thanks to the residents just south of Pine Junction on CR 126 for reporting its location, wildlife officers were able to free it of that tire Saturday." The community tip led wildlife officers Scott Murdoch and Dawson Swanson to the elk. They tranquilized the over 600-pound animal and removed the tire by cutting its antlers off. This was a safe and painless procedure for the elk.
Why we cut the antlers off & not the tire:— CPW NE Region (@CPW_NE) October 12, 2021
1⃣ We tried, sawzall was slow going thru steel in the bead of the tire
2⃣ The animal was under anesthesia, time was limited
3⃣ Does not harm the elk, will grow back next year
4⃣ Reduces the chance the bull would be harvested this year pic.twitter.com/C24rgd5krs
"It was not easy for sure," CPW officer Murdoch stated in a news release. "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. 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." According to estimates from CPW, the tire was filled with 10 pounds of debris. When the tire and antlers were removed, the elk lost 35 pounds. The officers were also surprised by the condition of the animal's neck.
Murdoch shared, "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. I was actually quite shocked to see how good it looked." The officers received help from neighbors in the area, and the elk returned to its regular activities within a matter of minutes after the rangers administered a tranquilizer reversal. The removal took place after three other attempts as officials found it difficult to tranquilize the animal due to several factors.
The saga of the bull elk with a tire around its neck is over. Thanks to the residents just south of Pine Junction on CR 126 for reporting its location, wildlife officers were able to free it of that tire Saturday.— CPW NE Region (@CPW_NE) October 11, 2021
📸's courtesy of Pat Hemstreet pic.twitter.com/OcnceuZrpk
One of these factors was the presence of other elk in the vicinity. "Tranquilizer equipment is a relatively short-range tool," CPW officer Swanson explained. "Given the number of other elk moving together along with other environmental factors, you really need to have things go in your favor to have a shot or opportunity pan out." The department is still unsure about how the elk got stuck in the tire in the first place. As per CPW, it likely occurred when the animal was younger or during the winter when it shed its antlers.
This 2020 video with wildlife officer Scott Murdoch discusses the possibilities of how the tire got on there and what it would take to remove the tire.https://t.co/Frwi3kaXlc— CPW NE Region (@CPW_NE) October 11, 2021
The elk was first discovered in 2019 when a wildlife officer was conducting a population survey of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and mountain goats in the Mount Evans Wilderness, approximately 30 miles west of Denver. It was then spotted a handful of times by trail cameras and was known to travel between Park and Jefferson counties. CPW monitored the elk over the past two years and noted that the tire did not affect its ability to eat and drink. However, officers were concerned the elk would become tangled in tree branches or fencing, or even with another elk's antlers. According to the wildlife department, this incident highlights the importance of residents living responsibly with wildlife in mind. Resident should keep their property free of obstacles wildlife could become entangled in. This includes items such as netting, hammocks, clothing lines, and holiday lighting.