Colorado rangers have removed a tyre from around this elk’s neck after it became stuck over two years ago.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officers Scott Murdoch and Dawson Swanson tranquilised the bull elk near Pine Junction in the US state of Colorado on the evening of 9th October to free the long-suffering animal.
Swanson said: “I was able to quickly respond to a report from a local resident regarding a recent sighting of this bull elk in their neighbourhood. I was able to locate the bull in question along with a herd of about 40 other elk.”
Wildlife officials said the elk was four and a half years old, weighed around 600 lbs, and had five points on each of its antlers.
Murdoch said: “It was tight removing it (the tyre), 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 tyre. Fortunately, the bull’s neck still had a little room to move.
“We would have preferred to cut the tyre and leave the antlers for his rutting activity, but the situation was dynamic and we had to just get the tyre off in any way possible.”
After cutting off the animal’s antlers and the tyre itself, the ranger said they were surprised by the condition of its neck after being trapped in the tyre for over two years.
Murdoch said: “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.”
The CPW said it was the fourth time wildlife officials had tried to tranquilise the elk in the last week.
Swanson, who was able to successfully tranquilise the bull, said: “Tranquiliser 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 favour to have a shot or opportunity pan out.
“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. Once 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.”
The two rangers estimated that the elk probably lost around 35 lbs of weigh after removing its antlers, the tyre, and the debris inside of it.
Murdoch explained: “The pine needles, dirt and other debris basically filled the entire bottom half of the tyre. There was probably 10 pounds of debris in the tyre.”
The CPW said in a statement: “This bull elk has spent the past couple of years travelling back and forth between Park and Jefferson Counties. He would disappear for long periods of time, particularly in the winter, and was acting as expected from a wild animal, not wanting to be around human presence.”
Wildlife officials first became aware of the elk with the tyre around its neck in July 2019 while carrying out a survey for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and mountain goats in the Mount Evans Wilderness.