The challenges and rewards of living among wildlife
By Patte Smith; photos courtesy of Amy Talley, Laura & Ken Drobish, and Douglas County Sergeant Mike Connolly
Saturday morning on October 4, soccer games at Elk Ridge Park turned into two spectator events as parents, players and coaches watched a bull elk struggle to untangle itself from barbed wire. East of the soccer field off of Lagae Road in an open pasture, the 400-500 pound elk thrashed and pounded its antlers on the ground trying to break free of the wire that was wrapped around one of its antlers.
The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office (DCSO)was alerted by soccer parents who noticed the bull elk trying to run while tethered to the wire. The DCSO, as well as an officer from Castle Pines Village responded to the call and immediately notified Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW).
The elk, believed to have been caught in the barbed wire the night before, had pulled more than 150-200 feet of barbed wire off of fence poles surrounding the pasture.
District Wildlife Manager Crystal Chick arrived shortly after noon and successfully tranquilized the elk. Douglas County Sergeant Mike Connolly, Deputy Sheriff Matthew Crane, and Castle Pines Sergeant Peterson joined Chick and CPW Officer James Romero to untangle and cut the barbed wire from the elk’s antlers.
“There was a lot of wire wound around his antlers,” noted Chick. “Fortunately we could cut the barbed wire off with wire cutters and not have to saw part of his antler off. He was scratched up, but not seriously. After removing the wire, we did give him a reversal injection to help rouse him.”
As the tranquilizer wore off the elk raised his head a few times, and then staggered to stand up. “He is exhausted after struggling for so many hours,” noted Chick and Romero. “He is very large and is in good shape. He will rest and then will probably join his herd in the evening. We give this rescue a ‘good to go’!”
More than 100 people stopped at the scene to inquire about the elk – many stayed to see the outcome. “It has been quite an experience,” noted one resident photographer who stayed at the scene until the elk was freed. “Residents who live in this area love nature. This rescue was handled with the greatest of care. All the officers involved were very concerned and did an incredible job.”
A big thank you goes to the residents who called in the alert, the concerned bystanders who were there to congratulate the rescuers (and the gentleman that stopped by to bring them water), but most of all the officers from the various agencies who worked together to free “our” neighborhood bull elk. As the group of officers walked away, they all smiled and agreed, “This has been a very successful day!”