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Head, antlers poached from carcass of popular Rocky Mountain National Park elk

Kahuna had large, distinct antlers and was widely photographed during his lifetime.
Credit: Dawn Wilson Photography

ESTES PARK, Colo. — Park rangers at Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) are investigating the illegal removal of the skull and antlers from the carcass of a well-known elk.

RMNP officials said the popular large bull elk — often referred to as Kahuna, Bruno or Big Thirds — is believed to have died sometime in March.

The National Park Service (NPS) said it is believed that Kahuna died of natural causes, as there were reports he was injured during last year’s mating season and was underweight in February.

Park visitors and photographers had recently highlighted on social media the passing of Kahuna, sharing photos of his carcass. Kahuna had large, distinct antlers and was widely photographed during his lifetime.

Now, NPS said the skull and antlers of Kahuna were illegally removed or poached between March 20 and March 22. One antler was still on the skull and it is believed his other antler had been shed before his death.

NPS rangers said the elk’s remains should have been allowed to return to the earth in the park where he brought joy to thousands of visitors.

Anyone with information on this illegal incident to call the park's line at 970-586-1393 or email ROMO_Tipline@nps.gov. If you wish to remain anonymous you can leave a tip online here: NPS Anonymous Tip Information.

Credit: Dawn Wilson Photography

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