EVERGREEN, Colo. — Wildlife officials helped an elk stuck in an awkward situation.
Somehow, the elk got its head stuck in a child’s basketball hoop. The plastic backboard and pole were still attached.
Colorado Parks and Wildlife workers shot the elk with a tranquilizer dart, covered its eyes and removed the hoop.
When the elk woke up the hoop was gone, but it had a new green tag in its left ear.
“Each year wildlife officers are called to address problems with animals caught in wired lights or decorations stuck on animal’s horns, antlers or legs. Most of these incidents can be avoided by better planning of where and how to use decorations,” officials with Colorado Parks and Wildlife stated.
Experts offered the following suggestions to make it less likely than an animal will become entangled or hurt:
- Avoid stringing lights “clothesline” style across areas — firmly attach lights to limbs, gutters, or fence posts.
- Use multiple short strands of wire plugged together versus one long wire so that if animals become entangled they will have less wire to deal with.
- Place some flagging along the wired decorations so that deer can see where the wire is and avoid entanglement.
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 gardening materials (netting, stakes, ties, etc.) until spring use.
- 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, as illustrated here.
CPW cautions people not to approach or try to help an entangled animal, warning that “greater injury to the animal or the person may result.”
“Capturing and handling animals can be very stressful to them and can result in fatalities.” officials stated.
CPW explained that it will not get involved with entangled animals unless the object is impeding the animal’s travel (legs lashed together), has completely blocked the animal’s vision, or is around the animal’s jaw, neck or chest where constriction will affect survival.
“Animals which have become attached to each other via man-made materials will be aided by CPW officers, as this kind of entanglement can result in death,” officials stated.
Officials said they generally don’t worry about items that are tangled around the antlers of deer and elk, because the antlers drop off each year.