Rocky Mountain Park Rangers Investigating Illegal Removal of Popular Elk’s Skull and Antlers

by Amy Myers

Late last month, Rocky Mountain National Park lost a beloved member of its wildlife, and now, park rangers are on the hunt for the individuals that illegally removed the elk’s skull and antlers from the remaining carcass.

For years, Rocky Mountain visitors enjoyed spotting the elk bull named Kahuna as he wandered through the park. Kahuna actually earned several names from his fans, including Bruno and Big Thirds. Whatever you called him, he was an important part of the wild community and even became one of the park’s main attractions. While Rocky Mountain has roughly 2,000 to 3,000 elks in its herds, Kahuna stood out among them all. His massive antlers were truly a sight to behold. Seeing them for miles wasn’t an exaggeration — you could truly spot his tines from across the horizon.

Park officials believe that the bull shed the other one prior to his death. In order to minimize the effect of humans on the parklands and truly honor Kahuna’s legacy, the park left the bull’s remains to feed the scavengers and fertilize the ground. Unfortunately, following Kahuna’s recent passing, it appears that some individuals found Kahuna’s massive skull too enticing to pass up, even with only one antler.

Now, Rocky Mountain officials are investigating the illegal removal of Kahuna’s skull and antler from his carcass, which likely occurred between March 20 and 22. They hope to return the elk’s remains to their rightful place and hold the scavengers responsible for their actions.

Anyone with information regarding the illegal removal should call Rocky Mountain National Park’s tip line at 970-586-1393 or email e-mail them using this address.

Rocky Mountain National Park Mourns the Loss of Elk Prior to Illegal Cultivation of Skull

Previously, the park reported that Kahuna had sustained some injuries during the most recent mating season. By February, it was clear that the beloved elk was on his way out. He appeared much thinner than before, noting that he was becoming weaker. Park officials concluded that Kahuna passed died from natural causes.

Check out Kahuna in all his glory in the photo below.

Naturally, the Rocky Mountain community mourned the inevitable yet tragic loss of Kahuna when he passed away two weeks ago. At the time of his death, he only had one antler. Following his passing, his fans still photographed Kahuna. This only demonstrated just how much of an impact he had on the people and the park, even after his death.

One Kahuna-watcher wrote, “The King of Elk in Colorado has met his demise. Being arguably one of the most photographed bulls in the last few years.”

The photographer continued, “it has never once gotten old seeing photos of him and his impressive rack.”