One year to the day since the trophy elk dubbed "Big Boy" by residents was gunned down on Mapleton Hill -- allegedly by an on-duty Boulder police officer -- plans for a permanent memorial to the slain animal remain on the drawing board.
But there are signs those plans could still come to fruition.
In the wake of the animal's demise shortly before midnight last Jan. 1, those moved by the violent killing of the mature bull elk started collecting donations for the Mapleton Elk Memorial Fund, with the goal of erecting something, perhaps even a bronze statue, in its memory.
Just a few weeks after the animal's death, $3,000 had been raised by the Boulder chapter of In Defense of Animals, with $1,500 coming from a single Boulder business, P.C.'s Pantry for Dogs and Cats, 2828 30th St.
On Tuesday, Boulder resident Rita Anderson, director of research and investigations for In Defense of Animals, said the fund now holds $3,600. Donations may be made at any branch of FirstBank.
While having a reminder of "Big Boy" in place by today "had been the plan," Anderson said, she remains hopeful that something marking the elk's life and death can be in installed before long.
"This needs to come from the Mapleton people," said Anderson, who lives in Gunbarrel. "I really want to get something done with this money. But it's those people who need to make the ultimate decision."
A statue commemorating the animal may not be affordable, Anderson said, but less costly options are within reach.
"What we have been talking about was maybe a sandstone bench -- but a nice one, a little more elaborate than just a plain bench, with some etchings on it of the elk, and maybe sandstone around it."
Nick Grossman, a public works spokesman for the city of Boulder, said discussions with Anderson have focused on a flagstone bench, back and support, located on a landscaped median at Ninth Street and Mapleton Avenue, close to where the elk was killed.
Boulder officials have determined that placing a bench there would not conflict with any city utilities.
"I'm not aware of a timeline at this point," Grossman said. "I just know that staff is working with Rita Anderson to get this in place."
A highly anticipated trial in the case is set to begin Jan. 21, and should last about two weeks.
Former Boulder police officer Sam Carter, who resigned in the wake of the incident, has pleaded not guilty to two counts of tampering with physical evidence, a Class 6 felony, one count of forgery, a Class 5 felony and one count of attempting to influence a public official, a Class 4 felony.
Carter also faces misdemeanor counts of first-degree official misconduct, illegal possession of a trophy elk with a Samson Law surcharge, conspiracy to commit illegal possession of wildlife, unlawfully taking a big game animal out of season, and unlawful use of an electronic communication device to unlawfully take wildlife.
His codefendant in the case, former Boulder office Brent Curnow, who also resigned, was sentenced in September to one year of probation and 60 days of house arrest after pleading guilty to one felony -- tampering with evidence -- and four misdemeanors.
Plans for a memorial are supported by Boulder resident Jonathan Bennett. Although he lives northwest of the Mapleton Hill area, Bennett was sufficiently moved by the incident to write and record a song chronicling the episode, "Reason to Kill." Available on YouTube, as of Tuesday it had registered 840 views.
"I don't think it's gone viral, but it certainly has had a substantial number of viewings, and still grows, even now," Bennett said. "I think most comments on the video itself still ring true, in terms of what the intention was -- shining the light of day on the whole issue. That was the intention from the beginning, and any of that that continues is a positive thing."
Bennett added, "I think we need to memorialize Big Boy, and I certainly support that. But I also think we need to remain vigilant about the other issue, which is cops acting with impunity and being out of control. I think both of those things are legitimate issues."
Whatever the fate of an elk memorial turns out to be, a chance remains that a local charity might benefit from a donation of the meat that was harvested from the animal -- and remains in the custody of Colorado Parks & Wildlife as evidence in Carter's pending trial.
"We are obligated to maintain it until the case is adjudicated," said Parks and Wildlife area wildlife manager Larry Rogstad. "And at that point, we'll take it out and assess whether the meat is freezer-burned, or is in good shape to donate... I'm hoping it will still be in adequate shape to donate it out."
Rogstad was not able to say exactly how many pounds of the elk's meat were recovered in the case and preserved, but he said there are 48 packages, some of 1 pound or less, and others of "multiple pounds."
Previously, Rogstad had said a bull elk weighing about 700 pounds would yield roughly 200 to 300 pounds of meat.
Mary Lee Withers, owner of P.C.'s Pantry, is working with Anderson toward making the elk memorial a reality.
"The elk did nothing aggressive. There was no need to shoot him," said Withers, who saw the animal numerous times, including the last morning of its life.
"I had my St. Bernard with me, who weighs 150 pounds. We walked within 10 feet of the elk" in a yard at Eighth Street and Mapleton. "My dog barked. The elk just looked back at us. And he went back to eating his leaves."