A bull elk that lugged a tire around his neck for two years is finally walking a lot lighter thanks to Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers. Officers are not sure how the tire got around the elk’s neck but he was first spotted in 2019 while a CPW officer was conducting a population survey of sheep and mountain goats.
The tire could have gotten around the animal’s neck when he was young and his horns had not fully formed or perhaps during the winter months, when elk shed their antlers.
Removing the tire proved quite challenging as the elk roamed deep in the back country of Colorado and had only been spotted 6 times over two years, most of those sightings had been on trail cameras.
Wildlife officer Scott Murdoch discussed the elk and the difficulties locating him in the video below:
“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 in a press release. “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.”
But finally in October 2021 locals had spotted the bull elk near the highway offers were successful in tranquilizing the elk and removing the tire. But that didn’t prove without its difficulties.
“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,” Murdoch said in the news release. “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.”
By dynamic Murdoch meant the elk was under anesthesia and time was limited. Thankfully, the elk’s horns will grow back next year.
As for the elk’s health, when they examined his neck they were surprised to see he was relatively unharmed.
“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.”
The officers guess that the bull elk lost roughly 35 pounds of “dead weight” being freed of the tire.