PINE, Colo. - Wildlife officials in Colorado say an elusive elk that has been wandering the hills with a car tire around its neck for at least two years has finally been freed of the obstruction.
The 4 1/2-year-old, 600-pound (270-kilogram) bull elk was spotted near Pine Junction, southwest of Denver, on Saturday evening and tranquilized, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Officers with the agency had to cut off the elk's five-point antlers to remove the encumbrance because they couldn't slice through 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," officer Scott Murdoch said.
Murdoch and fellow officer Dawson Swanson estimated the elk shed about 35 pounds (16 kilograms) with the removal of the tire, the antlers, and debris inside the tire.
Wildlife officers first spotted the elk with the tire around its neck in July 2019 while conducting a population survey for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and mountain goats in the Mount Evans Wilderness.
They say they have seen deer, elk, moose, bears, and other wildlife become entangled in a number of items, including swing sets, hammocks, clotheslines, decorative or holiday lighting, furniture, tomato cages, chicken feeders, laundry baskets, soccer goals and volleyball nets.
Wildlife officers Scott Murdoch (left) and Dawson Swanson (right) hold up the tire that was on this bull elk for over two years (photo courtesy of Pat Hemstreet)