Craig A 9-year-old bull elk that had been raised in captivity since it was a calf killed a ranch worker Thursday morning.
The worker, John Renner, 56, went into the elk's pen at the Wyman Living History Ranch and Museum between 9 and 10:30 a.m. to feed the animal, according to reports from other ranch workers.
Authorities found Renner slumped over, face down in a feeding trough when they arrived, said Moffat County Sheriff's Deputy Rick Holford.
The cause of death wasn't immediately known, Holford said. Moffat County Coroner Owen Grant said an autopsy will be performed. He told the Craig Daily Press that he did not see an obvious cause of death.
Jean Taylor, who lives and works at the ranch on U.S. Highway 40 east of Craig, said the elk had blood on his antlers shortly before she and another worker discovered Renner in the pen.
Taylor said she saw what she thought was a jacket in the pen but that she realized it was Renner and called 911.
Lou Wyman, the owner of the ranch, said Renner, who had worked at the ranch for only a few days, was not supposed to go into the pen to feed the elk.
Wyman hired Renner to work on the ranch and do construction in the museum, he said.
Renner was staying at the Colo--rado Inn on Victory Way in Craig.
The elk has never attacked a worker in the nine years Wyman has had it, Wyman said.
The elk is used to being around humans but is sometimes aggressive when workers feed it, Wyman said, so workers feed Clyde through the fence.
When Clyde was a calf, Wy----man fed him with a bottle, he said.
The elk has been a big attraction, and ranch workers and visitors feed the elk through the fence, Wyman said.
Wyman said he planned to visit with wildlife officers before deciding what to do with the elk.
The elk likely will be killed, Wyman said.
Wyman is not required to put the elk down because of the incident, sheriff's Deputy K.C. Hume said.
Wyman's ranch is one of two elk ranches near Craig.
Mike and Vicki Crackel own a ranch with 55 elk west of town.