Elk wandering Colorado for two years with tyre around neck is freed

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A bull elk with a car tyre around its neck in the US state of ColoradoImage source, Colorado Parks and Wildlife
Image caption,
The bull elk with the tyre was first spotted by Colorado wildlife officers in July 2019

An elk roaming the hills of the US state of Colorado with a tyre around its neck for two years has finally been freed, wildlife officials say.

The four-and-a-half-year-old bull elk had to be tranquilised and have its antlers removed, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) officers said.

It was the fourth attempt officers had made within a week to free the elk.

"It was tight removing it," said Scott Murdoch, adding the elk's neck had a small wound and was missing some hair.

"We would have preferred to cut the tyre and leave the antlers for his rutting activity," Mr Murdoch said in a statement on Monday, explaining that officers were unable to cut through steel in the bead of the tyre.

He said the tyre had also filled with pine needles and dirt and it would have been a lot of weight to carry around.

After removing it late on Saturday, Mr Murdoch said the elk was in surprisingly good shape: "I was actually quite shocked to see how good it looked."

Media caption,

Wildlife officer who helped free elk with a tyre around its neck speaks to the BBC

Wildlife officers first noticed the elk with the tyre around its neck while conducting a population survey in July 2019.

The animal, which officers said weighed more than 600lb (270kg), was later recorded several times roaming between Park County and Jefferson County, but would disappear for long periods during the winter.

Previous attempts to tranquilise the bull elk were hindered because wildlife officers were unable to get close enough and other elks were nearby, but the rutting - or mating - season made it possible, Mr Murdoch said.