Time to stow away your swings, hammocks, volleyball nets, tomato cages

By: Kris Hazelton

The elk rut in the Estes Valley is underway and the Colorado Parks and Wildlife now urges us to please look around our homes, yards and businesses for items that the elk may get tangled up in.

Just last week a large bull got his antlers caught in the ropes of a swing-set swing. The bull walked by and tried to spar with the swing, causing the entanglement. Passers-by called Colorado Parks and Wildlife to get help and a wildlife officer arrived and drug immobilized the bull and freed him. Luckily, this story had a happy ending but if help doesn’t arrive quickly enough, elk have been known to struggle so hard that they fracture their skulls and tragically die in these entrapments.

When bull elk are pumped up with testosterone, anything that moves can be of interest. Swings, hammocks, volleyball nets and tire swings blowing in the wind pose a challenge for the elk and they will approach these items and try to spar with them. This can be a very dangerous practice as their antlers can easily become entangled in these items we have all around our homes and yards.

The CPW is urging all residents to bring these items in for the fall, to avoid any encounters such as the entangled elk shown on this page.

Lets make sure to look over our yards and bring in anything that might pose an entrapment hazard for our resident elk with which we share our beautiful mountain community.

Also, the CPW wants to remind everyone to enjoy watching the elk rut, but please do so at a safe and respectable distance to the animals. Even though it is fun and educational to watch this display remember, these are wild animals, in the midst of their mating season. The bulls are concerned with one thing, and one thing only, mating with as many of the females in their harem as they can.

The elk don’t care who or what is in their way, their goal is to pass down their genes to their offspring. It is extremely dangerous to get too close to these wild animals. Avoid potential accident, injury or death by always viewing from a safe distance. If an animal is carefully watching you and appears "jumpy," you are way too close. Avoid eye contact and back away. Raise your arms to make yourself look larger. For photographers, a good rule of thumb is "give them room, use your zoom.” Never attempt to touch or feed wildlife, it's dangerous and illegal. There's a reason it's called wildlife.

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