WASHINGTON — An elk that spent at least two years roaming the wilderness in the US state of Colorado with a tire around its neck is finally free of the encumbrance after wildlife officers removed it.
They had to cut off the sedated big buck's five-point antlers because they could not saw through a band of steel in the tire.
The 270-kilo elk had proven to be highly elusive over the past two years, despite several sightings.
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
It was finally spotted in a neighborhood Saturday evening and wildlife officers were able to get in an effective shot with a tranquilizer dart.
And its neck was in pretty good shape despite all that chafing.
"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," said wildlife officer Scott Murdoch, one of two who removed the tire.
With the removal of the tire and the debris in it—pine needles and dirt—and the antlers, the elk is probably 35 pounds lighter.
Why we cut the antlers off & not the tire:— CPW NE Region (@CPW_NE) October 12, 2021
1? We tried, sawzall was slow going thru steel in the bead of the tire
2? The animal was under anesthesia, time was limited
3? Does not harm the elk, will grow back next year
4? Reduces the chance the bull would be harvested this year pic.twitter.com/C24rgd5krs
The animal was first seen with the tire in July 2019 as a wildlife officer with a spotting scope carried out a census of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and mountain goats in an area called the Mount Evans Wilderness, Colorado Parks and Wildlife said in a statement.
At the time the elk was probably two years old.
The animal probably got its head stuck in the tire either when it was very young, before it had antlers, or during the winter when it shed its antlers, the statement said.
"Wildlife officers have seen deer, elk, moose, bears and other wildlife become entangled in a number of man-made obstacles that include swing sets, hammocks, clothing lines, decorative or holiday lighting, furniture, tomato cages, chicken feeders, laundry baskets, soccer goals or volleyball nets, and yes, tires," it added. — Agence France-Presse