BOULDER, Colo. - Two Colorado police officers have been placed on leave after the shooting of an elk that was later processed for meat by one of the officers.
Boulder police Officer Sam Carter said he was on routine patrol when he saw an elk that he said appeared to be injured.
"In the officer’s judgment, the animal needed to be humanely put down," Boulder Police said Thursday.
Neighbors told 7NEWS that Carter told them he came by to check on the elk because police had taken reports about an aggressive elk in the area. He told them not to be surprised if they heard a gunshot, the neighbors said.
A few minutes later, Carter shot the elk with one shot from a shotgun, police said.
The neighbors said the officer took pictures with the elk, then a black pickup truck pulled up and took the elk.
"The elk was taken home to be processed for meat by another officer, who was off-duty at the time," Boulder police said.
Carter and the off-duty officer, Brent Curnow, have been placed on administrative leave.
"It appears that the officer did not inform Boulder police dispatch about his intentions to dispatch the animal, nor did he notify an on-duty supervisor or file a report on the incident," Boulder police said in a news release sent to 7NEWS on Thursday. "Since there was no record about the Boulder Police Department’s involvement, it created confusion about who was responsible. We apologize for the confusion and have initiated an internal personnel investigation into the matter."
Colorado Parks and Wildlife said it is also investigating the shooting to determine whether a crime was committed.
The family who lives at the home where the elk was shot told 7NEWS the elk came to their yard often because he liked to snack on their crabapple tree.
"He was a little aggressive at times. I think he just really wanted to eat," Lara Koenig said. "He was a little bit lost sometimes. He used to wander down the back of all our backyards."
Koenig said the elk was a bit of a neighborhood legend.
"Everyone had different names for him, we called him Big Boy, other people called him Rufus or Humphrey," Koenig said. "Everyone has their different names or different connections to him, but he's been around for a couple years."