Big elk likely died of natural causes

DOW still seeks information on black SUV

The Colorado Division of Wildlife (DOW) said this week that a large bull elk that had made its winter home near the Jack’s Cabin Cemetery between Crested Butte and Gunnison had likely died of natural causes on Tuesday, January 15. Last week, the DOW issued a press release asking for information on the possible poaching of the animal, but poaching is now unlikely.




DOW area wildlife manager J Wenum says the elk, nicknamed “Jack” by motorists who spotted him from Highway 135, died due to a culmination of age, a previous injury, and harsh weather.
In addition, Wenum says, “He got tangled in a fence that morning… That might have been what put him over.” DOW officers had cut him free from the fence after they were alerted by members of the public, but the elk seemed exhausted from his struggle with the wire.
Prior to this, Wenum says, the DOW had been keeping close tabs on the animal, which seemed to be in good body condition. The DOW will euthanize animals that seem to be suffering. “It’s the humane treatment aspect,” he says. “We don’t want to see them suffer any more than anyone else.”
DOW officers initially thought the animal might have been poached but found that a citizen had retrieved the trophy after finding the animal dead—which is allowed under state law. “As we dug into it and found out more information, it became clearer that it may not have been taken illegally,” Wenum says and adds that a field necropsy, the equivalent of a human autopsy, confirmed that the animal died of natural causes. The DOW now has possession of the head but will return it to the citizen who found it, Wenum says.
The DOW is still looking for a man in a black SUV or possibly a pick-up truck with a camper shell that stopped and approached the elk at approximately 2 p.m. on Tuesday, January 15. “We’d like to find out what they were doing and what their intent was,” Wenum says. “That’s the one missing link.”
Anyone with information on the case can call the DOW Gunnison office at (970) 641-7060. 

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