ESTES PARK, Colo. (CBS4) — Some called him Bruno. To others, he was “Kahuna” or “Incredibull.” And many who didn’t know his name had seen his picture. The iconic bull elk, a favorite of photographers who visited Rocky Mountain National Park, was found dead this week.
Loren Schrag told CBS4 he’s been taking photos of the bull elk since 2018. He came across the carcass — and said he believes it was killed by a mountain lion.
“The tracks were pretty clear,” Schrag said. “No claws.”
Officials with the National Park Service said cause of death is unknown — but warn that people should always be cautious around any carcass in Rocky Mountain National Park because mountain lions could be nearby.
“He could have died from natural causes or been preyed on by a mountain lion,” Kyle Patterson with NPS stated.
“When we last saw him alive on [March 7] he was still limping and wasn’t putting weight on his front left leg,” Schrag stated. “He was definitely vulnerable to predation due to the injuries.”
Schrag described the discovery as a somber experience.
“…it was sad,” Schrag said. “We thought he’d make it through the winter, despite his injuries.”
The bull was hurt by another male during last year’s rut, Patterson said.
“Being the first to place a hand on his magnificent antler (one had already been shed) was humbling,” Schrag wrote.
The bull’s exact age isn’t known but wildlife experts say he was likely over 10 years old.