Skull and antler stolen from famous elk in Rocky Mountain National Park

Hart Van Denburg/CPR News
Visitors line up at Rocky Mountain National Park’s Fall River Entrance Station, near Estes Park, on July 21, 2021. The park has instituted a timed entry permit and an entrance pass program from May 28 through October 11 this year, as a way of managing increased visitor demand alongside COVID-19 concerns, budget constraints and staffing challenges.

When a widely photographed bull elk died from natural causes in March, Rocky Mountain National Park officials were happy to let nature run its course and allow the corpse of Kahuna to decay naturally. 

However, someone illegally removed an antler and skull of Kahuna’s carcass in late March, park rangers said. The other antler is believed to have been shed before his death. 

Kahuna had large, distinct antlers, boasting several brow tines on each side. Park rangers said they received reports of him being injured during last year’s mating season and of him looking underweight over the winter. 

The removal of the elk’s body parts is being investigated by park rangers. They are urging anyone with tips about the removal to come forward with information. Their tip line can be reached through 970-586-1393 or email

Hunting and removing or disturbing natural resources inside Rocky Mountain National Park is prohibited.  Those found in possession of the skull and antler could face a fine and up to six months in prison.