Famous Rocky Mountain Bull Elk Found Dead, Body Eaten by Mountain Lion

One of the best known bull elks in the Rocky Mountain National Park has been found dead, with his body eaten by a mountain lion.

The bull elk–known to many as Kahuna, Bruno or 'Incredibull'–had lived in the Colorado park for over a decade and was a favorite among visitors because of his size and beauty.

His body was found mauled by a mountain lion by photography groups Good Bull Outdoors and ACS Nature Photography. Officials from the National Park Service (NPS) said the exact cause of death is unknown, CBS4 reported.

The elk could have died of old age, and then his body found and eaten by a mountain lion, Kyle Patterson with NPS told CBS4. While the elk's age is not certain, park officials believe he must have been over ten years old. They usually live between 8 to ten years, however, some have lived to be much older.

Bruno the Elk
Good Bull Outdoors took many photos of the Elk over the years Good Bull Outdoors

Loren Schrag, who belongs to the God Bull Outdoors photography group, told Newsweek he had been a "legendary elk."

"We learned through our network of fellow photographers that Bruno had been spotted in the winter for the first time ever so we set out for Rocky Mountain National Park on March 7 to find and photograph him. We found him in a very visible location and spent about an hour with him along with fellow photographer Andrew Sanders," he said.

However, this was the last time the elk was to be seen alive.

At the time, the Elk appeared injured. The bull had been hurt by another elk during breeding season, also known as rut, Patterson told CBS4.

Schrag told Newsweek the carcass was found on the bank of a river. "Mountain lion tracks [were] around him and what appeared to be wounds to his neck," he said. "One antler had already been naturally shed, a process all elk naturally undergo each spring, but the other was still attached which allowed me to positively identify him."

Schrag said he took some photos of the dead elk while reminiscing on the time he had spent with him over the years.

"I told my wife Alli about it as well as Andrew and we all went back the next day to get more photographs to pay tribute to this legendary elk who is one of the most photographed wild animals in the world ... he was one of the largest antlered wild elk ever," Schrag said.

On Facebook, photography Good Bull Outdoors posted photos in homage to the bull and described him as "the most iconic elk in history." In a post, the group said "many miles" were hiked before they found the body. "Being the first to place a hand on his magnificent antler (one had already been shed) was humbling," the post said.

An outpouring of commemorations for the bull have been circulating on social media since his passing was announced.

Andrew Sanders of ACS Nature Photography posted a picture of the carcass to his Instagram page. "The king has fallen," he wrote. " He brought great joy to so many over the years with his show of dominance during the rut."

Sanders said the elk suffered "a number of injuries," this past fall. "In the end his his injuries coupled with a late snow storm that singled him out as an easy target," he wrote. "This bull has given so many the shot of a lifetime and will always be remembered as one of the greatest Bull Elk to wander these parts. This next fall there will be a new king to reign!"

The elk received an outpouring of love on social media

One Twitter account, Tony's Takes, described the elk as the "biggest, baddest" in the Rocky Mountain National Park.

Another Instagram account, Co.mountain girl posted a picture of the elk and said people traveled from across the U.S. to see him.

"I've been blessed with multiple solo moments photographing him and he truly was my favorite," she wrote. "This bull will always have a special place in my heart."

This article has been updated with quotes from Loren Schrag

Bruno the Elk
The carcass was found by photographers, mauled by a mountain lion Good Bull Outdoors