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Wild elk finally gets tyre removed from around its neck after two years

Wild elk finally gets tyre removed from around its neck after two years

A wild elk in Colorado is free after a years-long ordeal to remove a rubber tyre from around its neck. Wildlife officers were able to free it over the weekend after local residents alerted them to the creature’s location.

The elk was a four-and-a-half year-old male weighing over 600 pounds, or over 270 kilograms. He had spent the past few years travelling between neighbouring counties, disappearing for long periods of time, particularly in the winter, and acting normally for a wild animal, not wanting to be around humans.

Wildlife officers were first alerted to the elk’s plight in June 2019. While conducting a population survey for bighorn sheep and mountain goats, an officer saw the bull through a spotting scope. Wildlife officer Scott Murdoch said, “Being up in the wilderness, we didn’t really expect to be able to get our hands on the elk just because of the proximity or the distance away from civilization.

“It is harder to get the further they are back in there and usually the further these elk are away from people, the wilder they act. That certainly played true the last couple of years, this elk was difficult to find, and harder to get close to.”

In the past week alone, officers had made four attempts to try and tranquilise the animal. They were finally successful on Saturday evening, after wildlife officer Dawson Swanson found the elk amongst a larger group, and managed to tranquilise it, after which officer Murdoch arrived to aid in the removal of the tyre.

Of the removal process, Murdoch said, “It was tight removing it,” 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.

“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.”

Once the tyre had been removed, the officers were surprised to see that the elk’s neck was in relatively good condition. “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. “I was actually quite shocked to see how good it looked.”

According to Colorado Parks & Wildlife, "the elk would have gotten the tyre around its antlers either when it was very young, before it had antlers, or during the winter when it shed its antlers. It could have been a big stack of tires that the elk stuck its head in."

Removing its antlers does not hurt the elk, as they will grow back next year.

Image: Twitter/@CPW_NE

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