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Colorado bull elk with tire around its neck for years finally gets relief

PINE, Colo. (KRDO) -- It's been more than two years since a bull elk with a tire stuck around its neck was spotted near Conifer, but finally, the tire has been removed.

Colorado Parks & Wildlife shared an update Monday saying the bull elk was caught and tranquilized on Saturday evening, and officers were able to remove the tire.

You may remember when we shared video of the bull elk spotted on a wildlife camera last year. Even then, CPW asked for tips on locating the bull elk to get the tire off its neck.

CPW first spotted the elk in July 2019 and tried numerous times to capture it, with four attempts made from May to June this year. The elk was seen again in late September near Pine Junction.

Finally, a break came Saturday when a CPW officer found the bull elk in a herd of about 40 other elk on Saturday.

“I am just grateful to be able to work in a community that values our state’s wildlife resource,” said CPW Officer Dawson Swanson. “I was able to quickly respond to a report from a local resident regarding a recent sighting of this bull elk in their neighborhood.

The officers had to work quickly but they couldn't cut the steel in the tire, so they had to cut the elk's antlers off.

“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,” said CPW Officer Scott Murdoch.

The bull elk shed about 35 pounds from the ordeal, counting the antlers, the tire, and a whole bunch of debris inside the tire.

“The tire was full of wet pine needles and dirt,” Murdoch 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.”

Andrew McMillan

Andrew is the Digital Content Director for Learn more about Andrew here.



  1. Are these guys idiots or what? They didn’t need to cut the elk’s antlers off to remove the tire. A simple battery powered tool like the Dewalt Cut-off tool would have cut through the rubber and metal beads in less than a minute. This is what all that education does for you, no common sense.

    1. Go try to cut a tire with that tool. The rubber melts and binds the blade making it unable to cut. It would take an hour and 20 blades to cut the tire. I speak from experience. The best tool is large hydraulic cutting sheers. You can’t keep giving the elk more tranquilizers without endangering their life for the hours it would take to cut with a bad tool. Best not to criticize without any experience. They did what they had to do and it sound like they made the right call.

  2. Agreed that a cutoff tool would work best. HOWEVER, that is not something that would normally be part of their normal gear. Add in the short time constraints here (first sighting in two years, plus the limited working time for the tranquilizers) and you’re left with using what is on hand. The antlers will grow back.

    1. It’s not like they just saw this moose and then said, “Oh, lets remove the tire”. They’ve had quite a bit of time to think of how to remove it once it was tranquilizers. Like I said, it would take less than 1 minute. Not Rocket Science.

      1. You know very little about tools and tranquilizers. Go try your method…… it is not as easy as you try to make it sound.

        1. Wrong! Start cutting from the inside. One guy cuts and the other guy peels the tire away from the blade. Again, NOT ROCKET SCIENCE!

  3. So what will happen to him if he gets into a ‘rut fight’? Could he not get badly hurt? Too bad they couldn’t wait until rut was over. Sometimes ya just gotta do what ya gotta do and not wait for a better time.

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