• Caleb Cole

Do Elk Migrate?

The answer is yes...and no.

Elk are, by nature, a migratory species except where seasonal changes are moderate. (Roosevelt Elk, of the Pacific Coast regions in California, Oregon and Washington States do not migrate. Other subspecies of Elk migrate up to 50-100 miles.)

The elk spend the summer calving and fattening on fresh grass. Every fall, the massive herds migrate back down into the surrounding valleys and plains, where lower elevations provide respite from harsh winters.

The decisions that these animals make about when to migrate are absolutely dependent on changes in the landscape, changes that are ultimately governed by the climate, and in the future, with climate change, we should expect the timing of these mass movements to be altered, which will affect the other wildlife and the people who depend on them, including predators, scavengers and hunters across the ecosystem.

Then they start their return in the Spring. Soon after, bull elk, shed their antlers in March and April, their new velveted antler growth begins. During April and May, elk begin migrating off of the Refuge towards the mountains where they start over to find fresh food as a herd.

If you're interested in learning more about the movement of elk in the Colorado region, check out the full article at Colorado Parks and Wildlife.


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