Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Elk on the Golf Course

I live in southeastern New Hampshire. It's fairly rural here.

I love seeing wildlife....and have seen deer, coyotes, foxes, and a moose in my neighborhood. It never fails to thrill me.

When we decided to visit Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the main reasons was to see wildlife.

We weren't sure we would see much of anything, but we had high hopes.

We needn't have worried.

As we drove to our rented condo, we saw this group of elk on the golf course in Estes Park. ( These elk remained on that green for the entire 6 days we were in Estes Park. They spent the middle of one afternoon on a hillside across from the golf course....but other than that, they were on this one green.)

This group of elk contains one bull and many cows. We were in the Rockies during the elk rutting season or, as the park ranger called it, "the elk social season". The elk come down to lower pastures in September and October to form herds and mate.

The dominant bull gets all the cows.

Isn't he handsome??? (The large antlers, his general strength and robustness, his age - probably 6-8 years old, his high pitched bugle or call, and the way he's been wallowing in muck to make his legs and belly dark and smelly - that's what the cows go for!)

A female with a calf from this year. (I think this collar is part of research being done - which might include a study on elk contraception. Hopefully she was in the control group receiving the placebo).

The female elk in the Rockies usually have a calf every three years. In areas with more food and less harsh weather, the elk may have a calf every two years.

The male elk bugles to remind everyone that this is his territory and his harem, and to entice other female elk in the area to join him.

These are dejected younger male elk on an adjacent green. No cows for them.

And this handsome elk was chewing his cud right next to the doorway to the visitors center.

I really didn't need to worry about whether we'd see any elk!


Delighted Hands said...

Just beautiful! They are magnificent animals.

charlotte said...

Beautiful animals, they look very large. Are they a kind of big deer? In Norwegian, "elg" is a moose.

Colleen said...

Beautiful! I love the last photo - the Subway store sign in the background made me laugh. Some wildlife... and a sandwich.
LOL :-)

Life Looms Large said...

Colleen - luckily the subway probably doesn't have elk on the menu!

Charlotte - I meant to clarify elk for my European readers. The park ranger mentioned that what we call moose are often called elk in Europe. The elk is also known as a wapiti or in Latin Cervus canadensis. It is a very large member of the deer family found in North America & Asia. It is similar to the Red Deer found in Europe, but is a different subspecies and is quite a bit larger.

Thanks Delighted Hands for all of your comments!! I really appreciate your taking the time to read and comment!


PS: This might not be my last elk post. We also saw elk at dawn and elk sparring....which was really cool. It reminded me a little of how Bailey plays with his dog friends.

Jennifer said...