About two years ago, reports began to surface of a Colorado elk with a tire stuck around its neck. There’d been numerous sightings over the years, though the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Officers have been struggling to capture the animal to remove the tire, or they were until this past Saturday night. That’s when two officers were able to locate the elk, tranquilize it, and finally remove the tire.
It’s unclear how the elk, estimated to be a four-and-a-half-year-old weighing over 600 pounds, got the tire around its neck or when it happened. However, the prevailing years allowed the elk to grow its antlers, which made removing the tire difficult and forced Wildlife officers to cut them off. They couldn’t cut through the tire’s steel bands. Even then, it was still difficult to remove the tire, which had become packed with dirt and debris. The officers estimated that the elk is about 35 pounds lighter after removing the tire, the debris collected in it, and the antlers.
Thankfully, years of wearing the tire have caused the elk little harm. According to Colorado Parks and Wildlife officer Scott Murdoch, the animal had a nickel- to a quarter-sized wound on its neck. A bit of hair was rubbed off, too, though the elk appeared to be healthy otherwise.
This was the department’s fourth attempt in a week to capture the bull. Officer Dawson Swanson was tracking the animal after it was reported near Pine, Colorado, finding it in a herd of about 40 other elk. Swanson was able to get within range and hit the bull with the dart. The rest of the herd retreated into the woods while Swanson, Murdoch, and local neighbors quickly removed the tire. Once it was off, officers woke up the elk from sedation, and it was back on its feet within a few minutes.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife wrote that this elk “highlights the need for residents to live responsibly with wildlife in mind.” Animals are known for sticking their heads into things when foraging for food, and that’s what likely happened here. The Colorado department has noted that it has found animals – deer, moose, elk, bears, and more – caught in common man-made things like swing sets, hammocks, volleyball nets, and tires, to name a few.