It’s spring! Everything is blooming. Elk Cows are either heavily pregnant, or recovering from giving birth. At this tender time, they are hyper-vigilant — irritable, jumpy, and highly protective of their young.
For the first several weeks of their lives, the calves remain hidden while the cows browse and recover much-needed nourishment and strength after birthing. It is very important to observe from a very safe distance, never get between a cow and her calf, and be respectful of their sensitive condition.
Here are some guidelines for safe wildlife viewing:
Be aware of your surroundings. Remember, Elk will see you long before you see them. Awesome Elk Fact: Elk have evolved the ability to detect the slightest motions. They can rotate each eye independently and have extreme wide-angle vision so they are able to see to both sides and straight ahead simultaneously. They will detect your presence long before you detect theirs.
Observe trail and detour signs. If a trail or path is closed, choose an alternate. The bird sanctuary along Lake Estes Trail is a popular “nursery” but Elk can be anywhere.
If an animal is carefully watching you, if her ears are up and her head is down, if she reacts when you move or appears “jumpy”, you are way too close.
Keep dogs leashed. Do not allow them to bark, lunge at or chase wildlife. Elk frequently cross the roads in and around Lake Estes. Never allow your dog to bark at wildlife from open windows of your vehicle.
Do not block traffic or stop in the middle of the road. “Elk Jams” are dangerous both for the animals and for other drivers. Pull safely to the shoulder or park in designated areas.
Elk know no boundaries, but people do. Remember to respect private property as well as the herd and one another when viewing wildlife.