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What’s with the snarl?

In Elk Facts by Cody Bloomsburg, Bugle Intern3 Comments

When a bull elk lifts his head and curls his upper lip into a grimace, he’s not just acting tough for the ladies—he’s trying to figure out if his love life is going to pick up. The snarl is called the flehman response and by curling their upper lips bulls expose their vomeronasal organ (located in their palate) that is used to detect estrus in cow urine, which in turn lets the bulls know when …

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Do Elk Ever Kill People?

In Elk Facts by Nick CallahanLeave a Comment

Over three days in June 2018, cow elk badly pummeled two people after they got too close to their calves in separate incidents in Yellowstone National Park. Both assaults resulted in extensive, traumatic injuries. The world’s first National Park, Yellowstone is 146 years old and saw over 4 million visitors in 2017. Increasingly, those visitors are getting too close to wildlife, geysers, waterfalls and other potentially fatal attractions. As with bison, far too many people …

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Can Elk Fly?

In Elk Facts by Dan Crockett49 Comments

It’s rare, but given the application of sufficient force, it does happen. As any student of jujitsu knows, the crux lies in leverage—using the opponent’s strength and motion against them. RMEF member Dan Fischer captured this definitive example on the 7th green of northern Colorado’s Estes Park Golf Course last September. With several big bulls screaming and rampaging nearby, Fischer selected a Nikon D90 instead of a 9 iron. He first encountered these bulls near …

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Why Are Some Elk Blondes & Some Brunettes?

In Elk Facts by Alexander Deedy1 Comment

Elk have adapted to blend into an array of landscapes, from the cold Canadian prairies to the deserts of the American southwest. There can be a broad range of coloration even within a single herd. But according to North American Elk, California’s tule elk—living with the highest average temperatures in sparsely vegetated, sunbaked shrubland—tend to be lightest in color. Meanwhile, the coats of Roosevelt’s elk that skulk the shadowy rainforests of the Pacific Northwest can …

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Searching for Sheds: Antlers and Anomalies

In Elk Facts by Sophie Tsairis, Bugle Intern2 Comments

Shed hunters know that after the winter solstice, when testosterone is at its low ebb in elk and other cervids and days are inching incrementally longer, every member of North America’s deer family is preparing to cast its antlers. This cyclical replacement is unique in the animal kingdom, and the exact timing of antler shedding is, well…complicated. The antler cycle is dependent on endocrine and neural control, as well as the size, age, and health …

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How Many Elk Rivers and Elk Creeks are There?

In Elk Facts by Dan Crockett1 Comment

Elk Rivers glide and plunge through at least 15 states and two provinces (not counting Indiana’s Elkhart or Nebraska’s Elkhorn). Reflecting the scope of their namesake’s original range, that list spans from Alberta to Alabama, California to Delaware. The U.S. Geological Survey catalogs 326 Elk Creeks, including a tantalizing handful preceded by Big and another handful saddled with Little. To those add a full 86 Elkhorn Creeks, plus seven Wapiti Creeks scattered from Maryland to …

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What Happens During Elk Calving Season

In Elk Facts by RMEFLeave a Comment

Tis the season for young elk to be welcomed into the world. Below are the words of Jeremy Banfield, Pennsylvania Game Commission Elk Biologist. The majority of cow elk are bred around the third week in September. After a 245-day gestation period, cows will separate from the rest of the herd to give birth during the first two weeks of June. Elk calves have white spots at birth and weigh between 30-40 pounds. Within 30 …

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Elk Look a Little Scruffy This Time of Year

In Elk Facts by RMEFLeave a Comment

As spring changes to summer, elk are going through some changes of their own. Below are the words of Jeremy Banfield, Pennsylvania Game Commission elk biologist. Starting in late May through early June elk will “molt,” where the long, light brown hair of their winter coats will shed off revealing the short amber colored hair that elk will wear through the heat of the summer months. Their winter coats begin to grow back in late …

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Why did early explorers find large mounds of elk antlers?

In Elk Facts by Trevor Reid, Bugle Intern2 Comments

As explorers began traversing the northern Great Plains in the mid-19th century, they noted odd sightings on their journeys west ─ enormous mounds of elk antlers stacked along rivers in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. In his journal, Prince Maximilian zu Wied described one such pyramid druing his expedition’s through the American West l in the 1830s. Dubbed the Elkhorn Steeple, the mound stood roughly 18 feet high and 15 feet in diameter …

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When a bull breaks a tine, does his rack grow back whole next year?

In Elk Facts by Sam Wilson, Bugle internLeave a Comment

It depends. If the antler has hardened to bone, the answer is yes. If the injury happens while the antlers are still covered in velvet, that tine will likely grow strangely and may well fork or sprout sticker points every year for the rest of the bull’s life. The annual rut is like UFC for elk, but with way more on the line. The winners of the savage battles procreate and pass on their genes, …

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Do elk box?

In Elk Facts by Kasey RahnLeave a Comment

What do Mike Tyson, Muhammad Ali and elk have in common? They’re all skilled boxers. While it might be easy to assume antlers are an elk’s preferred weapon, boxing is often used in common quarrels between elk. During a fight, both elk will rise on their hind legs and rapidly punch with their front hooves, alternating legs. A strike from a front hoof can be a powerful blow. Aggressive cows often use this behavior and …

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A ‘Gang’ of Elk?

In Elk Facts by RMEF6 Comments

A ‘Gang’ of Elk? If a bunch of lions is a pride and a batch of crows is a murder, what do you call a group of elk? The answer may surprise you. According to a list of animal congregations offered by the US Geological Survey, the term for a plural grouping for elk is none other than a gang. Gang? What about herd? To be fair, other sources such as the Oxford Dictionary do …