Copy of 2021-10-12T153621Z_686049238_RC2F8Q92M6DI_RTRMADP_3_USA-ELK-TYRE-1634386871610
An elk is seen with a tyre around its neck before a rescue operation, in Colorado, US. Image Credit: PAT HEMSTREET via REUTERS

Pine, Colorado: Wildlife officials in Colorado say an elusive elk that has been wandering the hills with a car tyre around its neck for at least two years has finally been freed of the obstruction.

The 4 1/2-year-old, 270kg bull elk was spotted near Pine Junction, southwest of Denver, on Saturday evening and tranquilised, according to Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Officers with the agency had to cut off the elk’s five-point antlers to remove the encumbrance because they couldn’t slice through the steel in the bead of the tyre.

“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,’’ officer Scott Murdoch said.

Murdoch and fellow officer Dawson Swanson estimated the elk shed about 35kg with the removal of the tyre, the antlers and debris inside the tyre.

Wildlife officers first spotted the elk with the tyre around its neck in July 2019 while conducting a population survey for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and mountain goats in the Mount Evans Wilderness.

They say they have seen deer, elk, moose, bears and other wildlife become entangled in a number of items, including swing sets, hammocks, clotheslines, decorative or holiday lighting, furniture, tomato cages, chicken feeders, laundry baskets, soccer goals and volleyball nets.