An elusive bull elk which has been stuck in a car tyre for two years has been freed at last, reported Colorado wildlife officials on Saturday.
The four-and-a-half year elk weighing 270kg had been walking the Denver hills for years with the distinctive look, with Parks and Wildlife rangers unable to catch him. Until now.
The animal was first spotted in 2019 with the tyre around its neck. Since then the tyre had stuck fast on the animal, as the bull elk's antlers had grown into an impressive five-point crown.
In spite of the neckwear it was difficult to spot the elk, said CPW officer Scott Murdoch. There had been six sightings since July 2019, mostly on trail and trapping cameras.
He speculated that it could have been eating out of the tyre in winter, before it had antlers, but how it got stuck was "anybody's guess".
Unable to shake it free, this was the fourth attempt to catch the animal by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
Officers were finally able to track and tranquilise the animal this weekend near Pine Junction, south Denver. However, freeing him was more tricky.
The agency workers eventually cut off his antlers in order to pull the tyre free.
"We would have preferred to cut the tyre and leave the antlers for his rutting activity, but the situation was dynamic and we had to just get the tyre off in any way possible," said Murdoch.
A metal bead in the tyre prevented the officers from cutting through the rubber.
Removing the antlers was "regrettable" said Murdoch as it would affect his ability to rut, however these horns would eventually grow back.
Officer Dawson Swanson responded to the call on Saturday after a local reported seeing the Elk running with a herd of around 40 animals.
He stuck out from the crowd.
The seasonal rut helped the officers find him, as deer mass in the lowlands from the Mount Evans Wilderness. While having no antlers may hurt his chances of mating, he'll be grateful for being 16kg lighter.
- With Associated Press