Sunday, September 23, 2012

Yellowstone Elk

Elk, or as the Indians named them Wapiti, Elk (Wapiti) (Cervus canadensisis the most abundant large mammal found in Yellowstone.  There is 7 to 8 different herds that summer in Yellowstone and contain approximately 30,000 elk.  During the winter, 15 to 22,000 elk are found in Yellowstone.  Elk are the second largest species of the deer family with moose being larger.
During my visit to Yellowstone, I observed elk right in the town Of Mammoth and walking down the main street of Gardiner Montana.  Elk were even feeding in the yards next to our motel and on the football field at the school in Gardiner.
In the fall, during the rut season, the bull elk become very aggressive trying to attract females into their harems and protecting their harems against other males.  Bull elk will attack people, and even cars, as we observed in Mammoth.  When there were a large group of elk, park rangers and volunteers with there to keep people more than 25 yards away from the elk to help protect them.  On the Yellowstone National Park site there are videos that demonstrate why you need to keep away from from the large animals. http://www.nps.gov/yell/photosmultimedia/safetyvideos.htm.  Visitors need to be reminded that all he animals in the park are wild and can be dangerous.
During the visit, we photographed mainly one herd of elk, that hung around Mammoth and along the road leading toward Gardiner.  At times, the bull elk, which we named Ig Boy,,  of this herd was very aggressive, especially if a second bull elk was near the herd.
 _D8C5265-Edit September 14, 2012 NIKON D800
Bugling Male
There are four different subspecies of elk present in North America, Including the Rocky Mountain Elk, the Roosevelt Elk, The Tule Elk, and the Manitobian Elk..  The Roosevelt Elk are found in the Pacific Northwest.  The Tule Elk, a located in California and I have observed them in the Point Reyes National Seashore..  The Manitobian Elk are located in the Midwestern United States and the Canadian Prairie Provinces.