By Jeff Todd
EVERGREEN, Colo. (CBS4) – An elk in Colorado somehow got a pool inflatable stuck around its neck last month.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill released a YouTube video this week showing the elk in Evergreen after it had been tranquilized on Sept. 19.
In the video, a wildlife officer approaches the animal — who was with a large herd in an alpine meadow — and a bull elk moves away. Bulls tend to be territorial at this time of year.
The officer was able to safely remove the pool toy. There’s no word on how it got stuck around the elk’s neck.
CPW says it responds to numerous cases each year where wildlife are entangled in human toys or home decorations.
“Especially in Evergreen and Estes park we have really large populations of elk, and we have a lot of people living there too,” said CPW Public Information Officer Jennifer Churchill.
“They will very often get caught in hammocks or clothes lines or sports equipment,” Churchill said, “We’ve seen them get Christmas lights wrapped around their antlers. There’s just a whole bunch of things out in your yard.”
CPW are urging humans to help keep the wildlife safe with the following recommendations:
– Wait to put up outdoor lights on posts, shrubs or small trees until after the peak of the deer rut, sometime after the first week of December.
-Trees with trunk diameters of two to six inches are most likely to be rubbed by bucks which entangle lights in their antlers – only string lights on larger diameter trees.
-Use multiple short strands of wire plugged together versus one long strand so that if animals become entangled they will have less cord to deal with.
-Avoid stringing lights “clothesline” style across areas — firmly attach lights to tree limbs, gutters, or fence posts.
-Place some flagging along the wired decorations so that deer can see where the wire is and avoid entanglement.
These ideas can also apply to general yard planning year-round. Wildlife can also benefit from:
-Removing volleyball nets from their posts during the winter – don’t wrap nets around the post, as animals may still be enticed to rub their antlers on it and get caught.
-Disconnecting and storing water hoses, tomato cages and other garden materials (netting, stakes, ties, etc.) until spring.
-Taking down and storing hammocks and swings when not in use.
-Flagging or removing empty clotheslines until they are needed.
-Fencing yards with animals in mind.
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.