Do Elk Need Sagebrush?

In Bugle, Elk Factsby RMEFLeave a Comment

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, you often find elk digging near sagebrush to access other forage beneath the snow. Sagebrush sticks up higher where it gets heated by the sun, warming and softening the snow around the plant for easier digging.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t understand how vital sagebrush is for elk and other critters. When I was a kid in Wyoming, I saw people spraying and killing sagebrush. As a wildlife biologist, I’m glad sagebrush habitat is finally getting the attention it deserves.