At last! Bull elk gets tire off neck after 2 years

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PINE, Colo. (KDVR) – A bull elk with a tire around its neck for at least two years is finally free, thanks to Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers.

Wildlife officers Dawson Swanson and Scott Murdoch near the community of Pine, southwest of Denver, were able to tranquilize the elk and get the tire Saturday night.

“It was tight removing it,” Murdoch said of pulling the tire off the bull’s neck, even after cutting its antlers off. “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.”

Bull elk shed and regrow their antlers every year.

“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,” shared CPW.

The bull elk, which is 4 1/2 years old and weighs over 600 pounds, had five points on each antler beam.

The weight of the tire, the wet pine needles and dirt inside the tire, and the antlers were estimated to be about 35 pounds, according to wildlife officers.

“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 about the condition of the bull’s neck. “I was actually quite shocked to see how good it looked.”

Wildlife officer Scott Murdoch discusses a bull elk seen between Conifer and the Mount Evans Wilderness Area with a tire around its neck (Credit CPW)

Wildlife officers had tried to tranquilize this bull three times earlier in the week. Four attempts were made in May and June in the Pleasant Park area of Conifer.

“Tranquilizer equipment is a relatively short-range tool and 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,” Swanson said. “I was able to get within range a few times that evening, however, other elk or branches blocked any opportunities. It was not until shortly before dark that everything came together and I was able to hit the bull with the dart. One the bull was hit with the dart, the entire herd headed back into the thick timber. This is where I was able to find the bull.” 

Officials say it’s not unheard of for elk to find themselves entangled in our everyday objects, including the following:

  • Tricycles
  • Tires
  • Garden cages
  • Clothes lines
  • Plastic fencing
  • Lawn chairs
  • Playground equipment
  • Soccer nets
  • Christmas lights

Helpful tips around animal entanglement:

  • Place lights and other decorations above six feet or attached tightly to trees and buildings
  • Lights that hang low or that are draped insecurely over vegetation can get tangled easily in antlers
  • Report any wildlife entanglement immediately and don’t try to intervene by yourself

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