Elk That Had Tire Stuck Around Its Neck for Two Years Is Mercifully Freed

Two years ago, a wildlife officer in Colorado was tracking a group of elk in a spotting scope when he saw a young buck with a tire around its neck. The officer who spotted it thought about trying to get to the elk to help it out, but, well, good luck with that. The elk went about its way, tire necklace and all.

For a couple years the bull elk would occasionally be photographed by a trail camera, still with the tire constricting its neck. It seemed otherwise in good health.

Last week, someone spotted the elk and called the authorities who hatched a plan. They could track the elk down, tranquilize, and remove the tire. It took four tries, but finally on Saturday evening, wildlife officer Dawson Swanson darted the bull, and with help from another officer, cut the bull’s antlers off and freed it from the tire.

“We would have preferred to cut the tire and leave the antlers for his rutting activity,” Swanson said, “but the situation was dynamic and we had to just get the tire off in any way possible.”

There were ten pounds of dirt and wet, rotting pine needles in the bottom of the tire when it was removed.

After waking the elk, it trotted off, a bit lighter, likely bummed to have lost its antlers right during the rut, but mercifully tire free.

Authorities have no idea how the elk came across the tire, or why it put its head through it. Though they caution that as people move more and more into the urban-wilderness interface zone, animals will continually find themselves caught up in our garbage, metaphorically, and, sadly, literally.

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