Woman worried about elk hit on highway
ASPEN ” A Basalt woman is worried about what happened to a large elk hit and killed by a car on Highway 82 recently. Officials say the incident was handled by the book.
Debbie Farrell said this week she is concerned authorities mishandled the animal. She reported seeing a man she thought might have been a law enforcement officer hold up the head of the dead elk in a triumphant fashion.
A Colorado Division of Wildlife official said the animal was handled according to the agency’s policies, and nothing improper took place.
Farrell said she was driving toward Aspen from Basalt Nov. 17 when she saw several vehicles stopped along the highway. She said she saw several men working on “a really huge elk” carcass on the hillside just above the highway.
“It was the biggest elk I’d ever seen,” she said.
Division of Wildlife officer Randy Hampton said Farrell’s story was mostly correct, but he disputed that anyone held the held triumphantly. The elk was a “six-by-six” ” meaning it had six antler points on each side of its rack, he said.
An elk of that size falls under Colorado’s Samson Law and requires special treatment, Hampton said.
Pitkin County Sheriff’s Deputy John Armstrong, who responded to a call about an elk “wounded and suffering” on the highway, said “a group of local boys … downvalley commuting construction workers” had already begun to butcher the elk along the roadside when he arrived, an act Armstrong characterized as “perfectly legal” under Colorado law.
The men wanted to keep the head and antlers, but Armstrong told them that because the elk was trophy-sized they had to be turned over to the Division of Wildlife. The agency either destroys the rack or, in some cases, auctions off the antlers at a special sale each February.
As for anyone holding the head aloft, Hampton said it is more likely that Farrell saw Armstrong hoist the head onto his back to carry it to his patrol car for delivery to the Division of Wildlife. Armstrong said he “never saw anyone raise it above their head” in any way.
The husband of the woman who hit the elk later called the Division of Wildlife to see if he could claim the rack as “some compensation for the fact that they wrecked their car” when it collided with the large elk, Hampton said.
The request was denied.