It wasn't the whole huge herd from the early winter but a smaller group of maybe a hundred. They spread out over a huge area so I couldn't get them all in one frame.
I was struck by the fact that mother elk were still sticking close to their calves that were born almost a year ago.
The calves are born just after the elk migrate to the high mountains, probably in June. These almost-yearlings will probably go off on their own when the next calves are born soon.
I find myself wondering how the calves do who lose their mothers during hunting season in November. There must be some benefit to still staying with a calf's mother since they all do it.
I wonder if other cow elk watch over the "orphans". I also wonder if anyone has studied the survival of the orphaned calves.
The current "herd" is mostly cow elk. Many of them look quite skinny (see above photo) but that's at least partly due to the shedding of their winter coats. Most have lost their dark furred neckwarmers.
Some young bull elk do stay with the herd of cow elk but all the older ones with big antler racks are off by themselves.
It sure is fun to be able to watch these animals almost from our house!
I feel grateful that Shyla has learned not to chase elk. She might take a step or two toward them when we see them during a mountain bike ride but always returns right to my side without going more than a few yards toward them.
That's when I know that all the hard work at training has paid off!