Colorado Wildlife Officers Remove Tire That Was Around Elk’s Neck for Over Two Years

by Jon D. B.

“It was not easy.” After over two years and four attempts, Colorado’s infamous “tire elk” has finally had this human obstruction removed from his neck.

“It was tight removing it,” says Scott Murdoch, one of the wildlife officers responsible for removing the tire. And “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 continues.

On Saturday evening, he and fellow officer Dawson Swanson were able to free the elk. The young bull, estimated to be four-and-a-half-years-old, weighs over 600-pounds and had to be located, then tranquilized, for the harrowing removal.

According to Colorado Parks & Wildlife (CPW), Swanson and Murdoch had to cut the elk’s antlers off. The task would’ve been otherwise impossible, as bull elk antlers are truly massive.

“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 adds of the rescue that took place roughly one mile south of Pine Junction, CO.

And once the tire was off, Swanson and Murdoch were stunned at the condition of the bull’s neck after wearing a tire for more than two years.

“The hair was rubbed off a little bit, there was one small open wound maybe the size of a nickel or quarter, but other than that it looked really good,” Murdoch offers for CPW. “I was actually quite shocked to see how good it looked.”

Bull Elk’s Rescue from Tire Sees Him ‘Drop 35-Pounds’

Wildlife officer Scott Murdoch discusses a bull elk seen between Conifer and the Mount Evans Wilderness Area with a tire around its neck.

August 14, 2020

Shockingly, once the elk was located the rescue was over in a “matter of minutes.”

“I was able to get within range a few times that evening, however, other elk or branches blocked any opportunities,” says Officer Swanson, shooter of the winning tranquilizer shot. “Once the bull was hit with the dart, the entire herd headed back into the thick timber. This is where I was able to find the bull.” 

The officers estimate that the bull elk is now free of roughly 35-pounds of crippling weight.

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

This tire-laden elk was first spotted in July of 2019, and has been moving between Park and Jefferson Counties. At the time, the bull would’ve been no older than two years.

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

CPW recommends that if you see wildlife entangled in something or with debris wrapped around it, that you report it immediately to wildlife officials. Call CPW’s Denver office at 303-291-7227.