Elk migrate with seasons. During winters, they generally move down from the mountains where heavy snow makes it difficult to find food, and cold temps combined with inadequate food sources make for dangerous circumstances. The elk are smarter than that. Some of the largest elk, though, do not generally move down unless it becomes exceptionally cold and then only for a short time. There is a location in Utah where the elk winter safely under the watchful eyes of wildlife management. The public is allowed to view the elk with, of course, restrictions and oversight. Earlier this week, we went to see the elk and learned much. This particular site is unique in that multiple herds come together for an extended period of time. Yes, this increases the possibility of disease spreading from one herd to another. Many of the cows (female elk) are pregnant and will give birth in May or June after they have returned to higher elevation. Because there is no competition for the females, the bulls (male elk) do not fight. We also learned that baby elk do not have any scent for awhile after they are born to protect them from predators. The mom, who does have a scent, will leave the baby under some trees and come back just to nurse the baby until it is stronger and able to protect itself a bit or at least try to run. The elk are completely free and wild, leaving the area each evening and returning in the morning. It was spectacular to see these great animals fairly close-up. The winter grounds are in a canyon with a rushing stream running alongside the road as we drove in.
Do you have a wildlife story to share? We'd love to hear of your adventures. If you have questions, please comment -- we love to hear from you.