Biologists briefly capture some elk calves almost immediately after birth in order to monitor them to learn more about them and the herd.Below are the words of Jeremy Banfield, Pennsylvania Game Commission elk biologist.
Elk calves are typically born during the first two weeks of June. Each year Game Commission staff captures and examines a small sample of calves to ensure that they are healthy and that the population is reproducing as expected. Each calf is weighed and aged by examining the hooves.
At birth, an elk’s hooves are soft and white in color. As the calf walks around, the hooves harden and darken. By feeling the hooves, biologists can approximate an age of the calf in days.
Every calf that is captured is also given ear tags that can be used to identify that individual if it is found dead or legally harvested during the elk hunting season which provides important information for research purposes. The whole process takes no more than three minutes and this brief examination will not cause the mother to abandon the calf.
*Please note that only trained wildlife professionals should approach and handle young wildlife.
(Photo source: Hal Korber)