Finally free: Tire removed from elk’s neck after two years

PINE, Colo. — An elk is finally freed of its unusual neck gear after more than two years.

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Wildlife officers with Colorado Parks and Wildlife were able to remove a tire that had been stuck around the neck of a 600-pound bull elk for the past two years.

Officers Dawson Swanson and Scott Murdoch had caught up with the large animal Saturday evening and were able to tranquilize it.

They then cut off the animal’s antlers, which had five points each and removed the tire the elk had circling its neck.

It was still a tight fit trying to get the ring up and over the elk’s neck and head.

“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,” Murdoch said in a news release from the park service.

Cutting the elk’s antlers was a last resort.

“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,” Murdoch said.

The elk had a small open wound and some missing hair, but otherwise the tire didn’t have any lasting effects on the animal. It also is about 35 pounds lighter after the antlers, tire and wet pine needles and dirt that had collected inside the tire were removed.

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“Debris basically filled the entire bottom half of the tire. There was probably 10 pounds of debris in the tire,” Murdoch said.

The elk was back on its feet a few minutes after it was given a medicine to counteract the tranquilizer.

This was the fourth attempt in the past week that wildlife officers had tried to free the elk from the tire.

Wildlife officials were first alerted to the tire-wearing elk in July 2019, officials said.

Wildlife officials remind people that they need to keep “property free of obstacles that wildlife can get tangled in or injured by.” Items include swing sets, hammocks, clothesline and tomato cages.