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  • This article by Jonathan Thompson originally appeared in the Jan 31, 2013 issue of High Country News.
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Topic: Culture & Communities     Department: Heard Around the West     Comments: 0

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A twittering elk in Boulder

News: Jan 31, 2013
by Jonathan Thompson

COLORADO

Believe me, we're as sick as you are of reading about Boulder, Colo., on this page. But, still, it might make a good reality show location, except that most viewers would doubt the reality of even a reality show set here. In early January, for instance, according to the Daily Camera, a man entered the Dandelion medical marijuana dispensary, sprayed employees with bear spray -- sending one to the hospital -- and got away with $9,000 worth of marijuana. The bear-spray pot robber is still at large. No news yet on whether the National Pepper Spray Association will suggest that if everyone were armed with bear spray, such incidents would be avoided.

That news was crowded out of early January's Boulder crime annals by the mysterious case of the Mapleton elk. The 700-pound bull with its huge rack was a regular in the upscale-even-for-Boulder downtown neighborhood, and reports conflict over whether he behaved aggressively or not, though he did allegedly once corner a mailman on a resident's porch for some time. Then he was killed, right in town, by a gunshot, and hauled away. Boulder police initially denied any involvement, before finally confessing that an officer had shot the elk for still undisclosed reasons, perhaps involving some kind of injury. Another officer hauled the animal away for the meat. All kinds of protocol was violated in the process, and the officers were put on leave. Meanwhile, hundreds of emotional Boulderites gathered for a candlelight vigil, and one resident took out a full-page ad in the Camera asking, tragically, "Why?"  The elk got his own Twitter account, posthumously, and tweeted a haunting cry from the grave: "Find me justice. I was just an elk who enjoyed the Mapleton Hill neighborhood." In all the excitement, reports of coyotes harassing humans -- even biting a runner -- on the east side of town were barely noticed.

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