Residents of Mapleton Hill say Boulder police shot and killed a large bull elk at Ninth Street and Mapleton Avenue late Tuesday night -- but no one from the police department, nor the Boulder County Sheriff's Office nor Colorado Parks and Wildlife, has any record of the incident.
After seeing a photo of the slain elk, Jennifer Churchill, a spokeswoman for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, said her office will investigate.
"This is a large game animal and a trophy animal," she said Wednesday.
The elk appears to be the same one that reportedly trapped a mail carrier on a porch in the area last week and was photographed by a Daily Camera photographer later that evening. Neighbors said the elk continued to frequent the area along Mapleton between Ninth and 11th streets and behaved aggressively toward passersby.
Roger Koenig, who lives at the corner of Ninth and Mapleton, said he saw people approach the elk with their cell phone cameras repeatedly Monday night, with some people coming within 10 feet of the animal. The elk would then lower its head and begin to charge.
Koenig said the animal also went into his backyard several days ago. He let his dog out before seeing the animal, and the elk did not retreat in response either to the dog's barking or his yelling.
"We were afraid he was going to kill our dog," Koenig said.
Koenig said he previously had seen police attempt to haze the elk using a bullhorn and flashing lights, and it ignored their attempts to chase it off.
On Tuesday night, Koenig said, the elk was in his front yard around 11 p.m. when people who appeared to be Boulder police officers arrived and told his wife that they might put the animal down and that she shouldn't be alarmed if she heard a gunshot. A short while later, they heard a gunshot and went outside and saw the dead elk.
Koenig said it appeared to be a "clean kill" and the animal was removed quickly, with the assistance of what appeared to be deputies from the Boulder County Sheriff's Office.
Lara Koenig, Roger Koenig's daughter, provided a picture of the dead elk to the Daily Camera.
However, officials with the Boulder Police Department and the county sheriff's office said Wednesday they have no record of responding to a call about an aggressive elk or of any officers discharging their weapons that night.
No record of shooting
Boulder police spokeswoman Laurie Ogden said officers who discharge their weapons have to document the reason for firing, regardless of the circumstances, but no one -- from dispatchers to patrol sergeants -- has any record of any incident involving an elk late Tuesday.
Ogden said it would be a concern if an unauthorized person shot an animal within city limits, but police aren't investigating because they haven't received any calls about it.
Neighbors, however, described several police vehicles in the area with their lights on late Tuesday night.
John Lorenz, who lives nearby, said he heard a loud noise late Tuesday. Later, he looked outside and saw at least two vehicles with police-type flashing lights at the intersection, as well as a large pick-up truck or SUV without emergency lights.
Churchill said Colorado Parks and Wildlife also had no record of the incident. State wildlife officers were not involved, she said.
However, local law enforcement agencies typically would notify state wildlife rangers when they kill such a large game animal, Churchill said. It's unusual for there to be no record of the shooting, and wildlife rangers want to know what happened, she said.
'He was a really beautiful creature'
Lara Koenig said she wished officers had found a different way to deal with the situation.
"I would have preferred it if they had tranquilized him," said Lara Koenig, who is home from college on break. "He was a really beautiful creature, and he hadn't hurt anyone, though I understand that he is dangerous."
But Roger Koenig said the elk practically had become a tourist attraction in the area.
"I believe the police acted appropriately in terms of the endangerment," he said. "If some action wasn't taken, we were just waiting for someone to be hurt."
Contact Camera Staff Writer Erica Meltzer at 303-473-1355 or firstname.lastname@example.org.