On Friday October 27, 2000, a Teller County Sheriff’s officer, following advise from the Colorado Division of Wildlife, (now Colorado Parks and Wildlife) euthanized a cow elk near the town of Woodland Park, west of Colorado Springs. Following is a brief synopsis of the events as compiled by Michael Seraphin, Information Specialist based in Colorado Springs.
At approximately 11 a.m. on Friday, October 27, the Teller County Sheriff’s Office received a call about an elk stopping traffic on Highway 67 north of Woodland Park, near the Southmeadows Campground. The caller said the elk had been spray painted and had a bag on its head.
The sheriff’s office responded to the call, and, at the same time, contacted District Wildlife Manager Tonya Sharp of the Colorado Division of Wildlife. Sharp was on the other side of the county, but after discussing the situation, she asked the sheriff’s deputy to euthanize the elk.
A hunter agreed to take the elk and utilize the meat. When the elk was field dressed, bailing twine, a rubber glove, and a plastic grocery bag were found in its stomach.
The elk was a year-and-half old female weighing more than 300 pounds. At the time of its death, the elk had what appeared to be pink spray paint on one side. In addition, an orange mesh vest and a cloth Halloween costume were wrapped around its neck.
The story of this elk started more than a year ago when it was "adopted", by Kayo Armentrout and Marsha McCain of Woodland Park, as a young calf. The DOW first heard about the elk in June, 2000. Some of Armentrout’s neighbors began complaining about a now grown 300-pound elk trampling their property, sleeping on their porches, and generally "causing a nuisance", according to the reports. At one point, the elk tried to break into one of the neighbor’s houses.
Sharp talked to the neighbors and advised them "to do some negative conditioning", in an attempt to deter the elk from frequenting their property. She suggested removing food sources, (e.g., bird food, livestock feed, hay, etc.). At the same time, Sharp advised Armentrout and McCain to do the same.
On October 9, a Woodland Park family called 911 after the elk attacked them as they were hiking on a pedestrian trail near the Southmeadows campground (in the vicinity of the Armentrout and McCain residence). There is at least one other documented case of this elk attacking a human. It is believed there may be more instances that went unreported.
The DOW made the decision to destroy the elk because it had become a threat to public safety. A 300-pound elk can easily kill an adult, and is especially dangerous to a young child who might not know enough to keep a safe distance from an unpredictable wild animal. While it is unfortunate the elk was destroyed, the alternative might have been a seriously injured—or dead—person.