Sunday, September 23, 2007

Bugling elk

This is the time of year when the elk in Rocky Mountain National Park put their mating ritual on display. The dominant bulls gather a harem of cows, and then spend lots of time and energy keeping the young upstart bulls from moving in. The park is home to hundreds, probably thousands, of elk which are habituated to humans and not at all afraid of them since they can't be hunted (legally) in the park. The result is quite a good show, despite the crowds. Two years ago we got really lucky and got to watch a 7-point bull lord over a harem of 25 or so cows and nearly as many calves. The bull was about a hundred yards from the trail, and some of the cows as close at 10 yards away. Our luck wasn't quite as good this weekend, but it was still a good show, and we heard lots of bugling. Didn't get any good photos of the elk, but here's a shot of the family at the end of our hike.

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