DOW puts down elk fed by humans
DEBEQUE – A young bull elk that had been fed by humans was put down by the Colorado Division of Wildlife Wednesday after it bumped a resident who was on a walk in a neighborhood.The DOW reported in a news release that the elk had been fed throughout the winter by one or more residents.Officers shot and killed the elk in the Bass Lake Subdivision near DeBeque. It had bumped a resident who was walking near the neighborhood’s lake.The elk was in poor physical condition. It had lost its fear of people and even was approaching people’s dogs. Authorities shot it for the safety of the public and to prevent further suffering by the animal.”This is the toughest part of the job for our district wildlife managers,” said area wildlife manager Dean Riggs, who oversees the officers in the Grand Junction area. “We constantly remind the public that it is illegal and dangerous to feed wildlife, yet each year we see situations where people feel that they need to feed, name, house, or otherwise ‘adopt’ these critters.”Division regulations prohibit the feeding of big game animals, and the agency may issue citations in the DeBeque case.Wild animals that are illegally fed or become dependent on human sources of food such as improperly stored trash are most likely to exhibit aggressive behavior toward people, the agency reports. Additionally, feeding wildlife can attract predators to residential areas, endangering pets, livestock and possibly people.With temperatures in western Colorado rising into the 90s, most elk have begun making their way to higher elevations for the summer. Biologists say the elk in question probably would not have migrated naturally. The elk would have continued to grow and its aggressive behavior would likely have increased as warm temperatures and improper diet further weakened its condition.Elk can weigh 700 to 900 pounds when full-grown.Because of the animal’s physical condition and behavior, laboratory tests will be conducted to check for disease.
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