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Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Wonderful Elk Viewing Time!

With all the spring snow we got, the elk herd retreated to lower elevation. We didn't see them for a while. When the most recent big snow melted, the meadows started to turn green, and the elk returned!

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!


  1. Shayla is a good girl, those pictures are so interesting. stella rose

  2. The elk are looking shaggy in their spring coats! My son and family live next to the elk preserve in Evergreen. The elk are constantly grazing in their neighborhood.

  3. Elk are amazing creatures - but always good to keep them at a distance, They have pretty darn good mothers too:)

  4. So interesting about the young elk sticking with their mothers. Probably safety. Great to see they lasted through the cold season.

  5. I truly cannot imagine the wonder of seeing Elk so close, in a huge herd, and the happiness of knowing that Shyla is not tempted to chase,

  6. Impawtent to have elk manners! Maybe Shyla can teach a class!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley

  7. The elk may be my favorite animal you share!

  8. Such beautiful creatures! I love the expressions on their faces!

  9. They sure are stunning and we're so happy you shared them with us!

  10. Love the photos of the elk! They are so beautiful! Enzo and I saw a doe Mule Deer this morning not far from the house. I love the photo of Shyla! Love from the mountain, Kathy and Enzo

  11. Crikey .... they sure are beautiful!! How's R doing?????? I think about him all the time.

  12. Love that picture of you, Shyla. You are such a good girl!

  13. the young elk boy reminds me of Easy somehow... they have the same position while watching their kingdom :o)

  14. great pics of the elk and their babies. Just makes me think of cows and the bond they have with their babies, but sadly most are taken away within moments of being born and then slaughtered. I wish more people would choose compassion over cruelty and go vegan. If not for themselves or the planet, do it for the animals.

  15. Those are beautiful elk! We worry about hunting seasons too.. and orphans.
    Look at that Shyla!


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