BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)– The Boulder Police Department confirms that one of its officers is responsible for shooting and killing an elk on New Year’s Day.
The investigation has revealed that Officer Sam Carter was on duty and fired his service weapon when he shot and killed the elk.
Witnesses said the elk had been wandering the neighborhood near 9th and Mapleton for several days. It had been grazing on crab apples.
The elk was thought to be a danger to the public.
“So then the officer tells my wife that he may have to take the animal down and don’t be surprised if there is a gun shot,” said witness Roger Koenig.
The Boulder Police Chief said one of their officers shot the elk.
After killing the elk, Carter and a Boulder County Sheriff’s deputy called an off-duty police officer. They loaded the elk’s carcass into a privately-owned truck.
Reports of the incident, the discharge of a service weapon and removal of the animal were never filed with police command.
The events were only reported after the public accused the officer of shooting the elk without cause.
The Boulder Police Chief said the elk appeared to be injured and needed to be taken down humanely.
“This is his reporting to us that he observed the animal was injured and in his assessment the animal needed to be put down,” said Boulder Police Chief Mark Beckner.
Witnesses to the shooting disagree. They claim the officers, including a Boulder County Sheriff’s deputy had discussed ways to conceal how the elk died, even passing off the elk as road kill.
“Their conversation was to get the elk in the truck, the owner of the truck would need road kill tags to have the animal in the truck,” said Koenig.
The Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife is investigating the incident to determine if the officers violated any state wildlife laws.
“I take responsibility for that and I do apologize for that and hopefully that won’t happen again,” said Beckner.
Carter is still on duty with the Boulder Police Department.