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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 were able to tranquilize the elk and get the tire off about 8 p.m. Saturday near Pine Junction off of County Road 126.

“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.”

“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.

CPW officers decided to cut the antlers off instead of the tire because the saw used to cut the tire was going through the steel in the tire. Since the elk was under anesthesia, the tire had to be removed quickly. The antlers will grow back next year.

The 4-and-a-half-year-old bull elk weighs over 600 pounds, and each antler beam was five points.

The weight of the tire, the wet pine needles and dirt inside the tire, and the antlers are 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. 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.” 

Things wildlife have become entangled in:

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

Helpful tips:

  • 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

Residents on the Front Range can call CPW’s Denver office at 303-291-7227 to report entangled wildlife, or if elsewhere in the state they can look up their local CPW office. If it is after hours when offices are closed, residents are asked to call Colorado State Patrol at 303-239-4501 and ask for the on-call wildlife officer.