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What is the deepest snow an elk will put up with?

In Elk Facts by Trevor Reid, Bugle Intern46 Comments

The amount of snow required to push elk to lower elevations varies from herd to herd and even elk to elk. Two feet seems to be the threshold where large groups begin to at least consider migrating downhill toward easier and more abundant forage. In Montana, biologists have noted mature Rocky Mountain elk are able to move without major difficulty in loose snow up to 3.3 feet deep. More than 4 feet, though, hinders their …

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What’s the difference between sparring and fighting?

In Elk Facts by Marko Capoferri, Bugle Intern4 Comments

Sparring is merely a chance for bulls to test their strength against peers in a casual setting, like a couple of amiable neighborhood dogs engaged in a lighthearted tussle. Ungulate expert, author, and professor emeritus Dr. Valerius Geist refers to sparring as a “sporting engagement,” which can resemble the atmosphere of a slow, drawn-out dance. And, much like dancing, sparring is a mutually-agreed upon encounter between two friendly participants. Sparring partners are often unequal—a mature …

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Can a cow elk have antlers?

In Elk Facts by Kasey Rahn2 Comments

Cow elk sometimes have tiny outgrowths on their skulls in the same location you find pedicles on bull elk. Renowned elk biologist Valerius Geist calls them “mini-pedicles.” One reason may be ovarian cysts in older females that can cause high levels of androgen, which can induce pedicle growth. And while it’s rare, cows can even sport short spikes that remain always in velvet, sometimes referred to as eo-antlers. Testosterone imbalances, trauma or disease can all …

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How does a cow tell her calf apart from others?

In Elk Facts by Danielle Lellek, Bugle Intern31 Comments

Do you think picking your kid out of a group running around on the playground is hard? Try finding them in a herd of almost identical look-alikes. Since calves aren’t named at birth, as far as we know, a strong calf-cow bond is what mom depends on when she needs to find her little bundle of joy. Newborn calves are separated from their mother at birth to hide from predators, so a connection must be …

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What is an Elk’s Favorite Food?

In Elk Facts by RMEF4 Comments

Judging by sheer quantity consumed, grass would appear to be the favored food. Elk gorge on grass year-round where it’s available, getting choosier about which kind during the summer when grasses are most abundant. Bluegrasses, wheatgrasses, bromegrasses, bunchgrasses and fescue are all popular picks. But who among us would say our favorite food is the staple of our overall diet? There are far less abundant plants than grass that elk seem to relish with the …

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Do Elk Need Sagebrush?

In Bugle, Elk Facts by RMEF3 Comments

The below is adapted from a recent article by the Sage Grouse Initiative discussing the importance of sagebrush to elk, as well as the overlap of habitat between sage grouse and elk. How do elk use sagebrush? Without sagebrush, elk would have a tougher time making it through the winter. Sagebrush are usually the tallest plants on the range, so elk can eat it when other plants are locked down under ice or snow. Plus, …