Bull Elk Tire
YouTube: Jason Clay

Bull Elk With Tire Around Neck for Two Years Finally Freed by Colorado Officials

Colorado Parks and Wildlife finally rescue known bull from tire around its neck.

Here at Wide Open Spaces, we have seen animals get into many strange predicaments over the years that need human intervention. A recent rescue by Colorado Parks and Wildlife may top them all. CPW was finally able to capture a bull elk that has been seen wandering around Park and Jefferson Counties for the last two years with a tire stuck around its neck.

CPW has been hoping for a chance to help this bull for the last couple years and finally got a report of it in the Pine Junction area last week. Wildlife Officers Scott Murdoch and Dawson Swanson responded to finally make the rescue.

In a press release, CPW said it took four attempts before Swanson was finally able to locate the elk and get into position to tranquilize it while it was moving in a group. Fortunately, Swanson was able to pick a spot he predicted the bull would cross and was able to dart it.

"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 in your favor to have a shot or opportunity pan out," Swanson said in the press release. "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."

Upon being hit, the herd moved back into some timber where Swanson was able to locate it quickly. Swanson said due to the rut, and the bull's condition, the tranquilizer was not as effective as it may normally be. He called in Murdoch to assist. They also got some assistance from some nearby neighbors to quickly remove the tire. They were forced to cut off the bull's antlers to get it completely free.

"It was tight removing it," Murdoch said in the press release. "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."

Amazingly, even though the tire was on the bull for two years, the officers found only some rubbed off hair and only one small open wound on the animal's neck. The officers estimated there was nearly 10 pounds of debris in the inside of the tire.

"The tire was full of wet pine needles and dirt," Murdoch said.

After getting the tire free, the officers administered a drug to reverse the effects of the tranquilizer and letting it walk free from its rubbery burden. CPW says the bull was first spotted by CPW during a population survey in July of 2019. Since then, it has been spotted sporadically and was caught on trail camera a few times. However, the animal proved to be extremely wary of humans and evaded all previous attempts to free it.

No one knows how the bull got his makeshift necklace, but CPW officials are using the incident to remind residents to keep their yards free of debris that can prove dangerous to wildlife like hammocks, Christmas lights, volleyball nets, soccer goals, tomato cages, chicken feeders, and more.

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