Elk spotted with a tire on its antler: Why it’s likely not in danger

Feb 18, 2024, 7:29 PM | Updated: Mar 29, 2024, 1:49 pm

Late last month, reports of an elk with a tire stuck on its antlers in Maple Valley began to surface.

As Christian Duthweiler relayed to KIRO Newsradio and MyNorthwest, he spotted the animal with the tire on its antlers at Lake Wilderness Park in Maple Valley on Jan. 26.

When he called the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW), it appears Duthweiler was not the first person to call about the animal. The WDFW employee said they didn’t believe the elk was in any immediate danger as elk usually lose their antlers in February anyway.

MyNorthwest reached out to WDFW and the message delivered from that office was similar to the one Duthweiler heard.

WDFW Communications Manager Chase Gunnell said in email late last month that they were aware of the animal’s predicament their office has received “sporadic calls about it to WDFW’s King County wildlife conflict specialist and WDFW Police detachment.”

Gunnell added the elk had been carrying the extra item for some time and still eating normally.

“The bull has apparently been carrying the tire for at least several weeks, and from the reports and our observations, remains mobile, is feeding regularly, and is in good health with no noticeable impact on body condition,” Gunnell wrote.

Given the animal appears to be in good shape and the biology of elk and when they drop their antlers each year, the plan was to leave it alone.

“Because this bull elk remains in apparent good health, and because elk begin to drop their antlers in February, we have not attempted to capture it,” Gunnell explained to MyNorthwest. “We will continue to monitor the animal and respond to reports as capacity allows. Hopefully the elk will drop its antlers — and the tire — soon.”

These types of events are fairly common

Gunnell explained other animals also experience this same issue and other items have get stuck around their antlers.

“Incidents like this one happen each fall and early-winter in Washington with bull elk and buck deer; especially when they are more active during their fall breeding seasons, known as the rut,” Gunnell noted. “Other examples include tire swings, soccer nets, clotheslines, and garden fencing wrapped up in their antlers. Unless the debris is likely to cause serious harm or mortality, we typically do not intervene, as capturing and handling these large wild animals can cause them stress and harm.”

Gunnell suggested that people who witness wildlife in distress with the state or who may be injured are encouraged to report them through the WDFW website.

If a resident senses an immediate public safety issue, wildlife violation, or an injured or dangerous animal, they are asked to call the WDFW Enforcement office at 360-902-2936, email them, or simply call 911.

Steve Coogan is the lead editor of MyNorthwest. You can read more of his stories here. Follow Steve on X, formerly known as Twitter, here and email him here.

MyNorthwest Lifestyle

weekend events...

Paul Holden

Weekend events roundup: Summer fests, block parties and zoo activities

The weekend is here, the sun is shining and there are plenty of weekend events to do including new zoo exhibits, summer fests and block parties.

1 day ago

Photo: Saks OFF 5th at Westlake Center in downtown Seattle will close on July 20....

Bill Kaczaraba

Departure of Saks from downtown Seattle hits retail core with another bit of bad news

Downtown Seattle’s retail core is taking another hit with the announcement that Saks OFF 5th will close this month.

2 days ago

Image: Parents and children enjoy a splash park in Shoreline on Monday, July 8, 2024, a blistering ...

James Lynch

Splash parks are open in Western Washington to beat the heat

Since many people in the Puget Sound don't have home air conditioners, finding a place to take kids to cool off, like splash parks, is vital.

6 days ago

Image: Jewell Loyd of the Seattle Storm reacts after making a three-point basket against the Indian...

Paul Holden

Weekend revelry roundup: Lots of sporting events around town, plus pirates

The weekend is underway for most due to the holiday, but there still is plenty to do this weekend. Lots of sports are on the docket.

9 days ago

Image: Drones appear to be falling into Angle Lake in SeaTac during the city's Family Fourth of Jul...

Steve Coogan

Dozens of dud drones: Malfunctioning machines sink SeaTac July 4th show

The Fourth of July celebrations in the city of SeaTac Thursday night included dozens of malfunctioning drones, some falling into Angle Lake.

9 days ago

Image: A horse group was among the many parade entries at the Edmonds 4th of July parade in Edmonds...

Bill Kaczaraba

Washington celebrates July 4th with parades, picnics, fireworks

People across Western Washington and beyond took to the picture-perfect day and celebrated July 4th with abandon.

10 days ago

Elk spotted with a tire on its antler: Why it’s likely not in danger