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'Larry' the elk: Colorado wildlife officials say it's never an easy decision to euthanize animals

Posted: 10:44 PM, Nov 15, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-16 08:06:55-05

BOULDER, Colo. -- We are surrounded by wildlife that can sometimes pay us a visit from time to time. Residents in Boulder are still talking about Larry the elk, who sadly had to be euthanized Wednesday. It was not only tough for the community, but for wildlife officials too.

Just two weeks after she moved from the East Coast to Boulder, Carie Lemack learned what it means to be a Coloradan.

"It was almost as if you walked out of your front door and waved to your neighbor, Larry would be there," said Lemack. "He just showed up and he stuck around. We'd find him standing, eating."

People watched in awe from a distance, like they did the elk in Centennial a few weeks ago , or the mountain lion that wandered into Evergreen , possibly looking for food - getting a hold of a family pet instead. Colorado Parks and Wildlife officers answer those calls from concerned residents and they told Denver7 each situation is handled differently.

"They seem like really compassionate, caring people that have a really tough job. But I’m really glad that they're on the case and they take really good care of the animals they find," said Lemack.

CPAW was able to save that elk in Centennial, but it’s not always the best outcome. Vets decided the mountain lion and Larry the elk both had to be euthanized.

"They don't like the times they put the animal down. They work so hard to do what’s right for all the animals,” said Parks and Wildlife public information officer Jason Clay.

In Larry's case, a bad jaw injury was slowly starving him, according to Clay.

Parks and Wildlife officers consult a vet to examine the animal so staff can determine if the animal can be relocated. They assess public safety risks and the likelihood the animal would survive.

“We have veteran officers that do this for a long time because they love their jobs. I wouldn't every say it gets easier when they have to do it. It’s part of their responsibilities," said Clay.

Even though Larry’s stay was short, Lemack told Denver7 he was always welcome and treated with respect.

"I felt really lucky and really blessed to get to know this elk,” said Lemack. "We miss him and we know that he's hopefully in a better place."