Elusive elk finally freed from tire stuck around its neck

by mcardinal

Chris Lange, FISM News



An elk seen wandering the hills of Colorado for the past two years with a car tire stuck around its neck has finally been freed from the cumbersome device. 

According to a CBS Denver report, Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers were finally able to capture the elusive 600-pound bull elk after a Pine Junction homeowner alerted them to its presence in his yard. 

The elk was first spotted in the summer of 2019 by wildlife officers in the Mount Evans Wilderness who were conducting a survey of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and mountain goat populations. Despite several attempts made by officers to help the elk, it managed to evade capture for two years.

The encumbered animal was frequently seen traveling in a pack with other elks near Pine Valley Road. It was in this same location that resident Patrick Hemstreet spotted the bull in his yard on Oct. 9. He immediately contacted Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials.

“I’d see him in my yard all the time,” Hemstreet said. “We felt bad for the thing.”

CPW officers responded quickly, using a truck to circumvent the pack as it prepared to cross the road near Hemstreet’s home and successfully darting the bull with a tranquilizer.

Now four-and-a-half years old, the elk had grown 5-point antlers, making it impossible for officers to simply slip the tire off over his head. A metal band in the tire also prevented them from cutting through the rubber. Left with no choice but to remove the animal’s antlers, officers were finally able to free it from the tire, made heavy by an accumulation of water and debris.

“We would have preferred to cut the tire and leave the antlers [intact] for his rutting activity, but the situation was dynamic and we had to just get the tire off in any way possible,” said CPW Officer Scott Murdoch, who estimates the intervention relieved the elk of approximately 35 pounds of weight comprised of the tire, debris, and its antlers.  

“The tire was full of wet pine needles and dirt,” he said. “So the pine needles, dirt and other debris basically filled the entire bottom half of the tire. There was probably 10 pounds of debris in the tire.”

“The saga of the bull elk with a tire around its neck is over,” tweeted a Colorado Parks and Wildlife representative, along with images of the rescue. “Thanks to the residents just south of Pine Junction on CR 126 for reporting its location. Wildlife officers were able to free it of that tire Saturday.”