Dark Cloud logo





Dark Endeavors

Yeah, I Fired A Shotgun and Killed An Elk in the Most Expensive Neighborhood In Boulder.....

.....so? You want me to fill out paperwork?

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, January 09, 2013.

So, on New Year's Day, a Boulder cop called in sick and another went out on his patrol and apparently hovered around Mapleton Hill. Mapleton Hill is old Boulder, big hardwood houses with huge and rare deciduous trees in the yards and broad streets with medians and money. Lots of it.

Mapleton heads west into the mountains and is a handy path for heading up into the woods and for animals heading down for a reason or not. For three years a male elk had been patrolling the avenue as it sought out and found food. It had a huge rack this year and was an imposing and beautiful sight. The residents loved to see this guy wander around their yards and there had been zero problem absent a mailman who phoned in a concern that the animal was getting too near and asked for help getting around him, but that was a precaution not an incident. Nobody thought the animal was much of a danger.

But leading up to New Years, police had told a few residents that there was an aggressive elk about that they might have to shoot, and for residents not to be alarmed at a gunshot. At 2330 hours New Year's Day there was a gunshot. The officer who called in sick arrived with a truck to haul the carcass away, apparently to his taxidermy shop.

Cynics in Boulder have gone so far as to suggest the shooter set this up, knowing New Year's Day to be quiet and the elk visitations regular. They waited for the animal, shot it, and carried it off for their own benefit. No need to inform the switchboard or their superiors which the law and their own procedures demanded. So, they didn't.

Unexpectedly to these bright Lights of Law Enforcement, people were attracted to the shooting site - shotguns being loud - and they arrived with their cell phones with cameras, and a photo of the officer holding the antlers at their widest point - the sort of thing an actual hunter would do - while posing for his friend to snap a shot, has made the rounds and gone viral on the internet. A third officer, a Sheriff's deputy, showed up and assisted. No muss, no fuss. Gone.

And a festive feast awaited, a mantelpiece would be crowned with the horns, and Boulder would be relieved of the danger of this aggressive, dangerous, and large animal. Win-win.

In honesty, absent total domestication and luck, this would not have ended well anyway. The elk would become too acclimated, people would feed it, children would name it, and a dog or two would eventually chase it and a child or adult would get run over and a minivan dented when it hit the animal, crippled it, and the elk would then actually be a danger in fight, flee, or faint mode too hurt to faint or flee, and in pain would savage that which it could. A quick death might have been preferential to agony by car or lion, but the animal could also have been sedated and trucked away, it's limp addressed, and freed in good shape.

But this was a case of greedy blood lust and macho selfishness by a police officer on duty, who conspired to set up a poach of a trophy animal out of season and place and who - along with accomplices - clearly lied to superiors first by omission and then by implausibility. He did not follow department rules regarding the use of a firearm or procedures regarding animals. The photo alone condemns him and offends, among others, me. This is a guy posing as if he were a hunter and had brought down a game animal after an actual hunt. He shot a passive elk at close range in a densely packed neighborhood.

The officer claimed, in one version, the animal was limping and so needed death. He then added on a fable of a broken antler also requiring death, but there are the antlers grasped in his hands in the photo. And so what, given they fall off every year in about a month? Then, emphasis on the aggressiveness. But the mailman has said that was overblown and not a complaint. In the years of this animal puttering about, incidents of his snorting and attacking numbered zero.

Among the many things disturbing is that everyone involved thought they could get away with this. How in the world could they conclude that in an honest city with honest cops and everyone with cell phones? This bespeaks a corruption in Boulder, and I don't like it.