Elk are one of the largest species within the deer family. Elk are susceptible to a number of infectious diseases, some of which can be transmitted to livestock. Efforts to eliminate infectious diseases from elk populations, largely by vaccination, have had mixed success.
Adult elk usually stay in single-sex groups for most of the year. During the mating period known as the rut, mature bulls compete for the attentions of the cow elk and will try to defend females in their harem. Rival bulls challenge opponents by bellowing and by paralleling each other, walking back and forth. This allows potential combatants to assess the other's antlers, body size and fighting prowess. If neither bull backs down, they engage in antler wrestling, and bulls sometimes sustain serious injuries. Bulls also dig holes in the ground, in which they urinate and roll their body. A male elk's urethra points upward so that urine is sprayed almost at a right angle to the penis. The urine soaks into their hair and gives them a distinct smell which attracts cows.
Dominant bulls follow groups of cows during the rut, from August into early winter. A bull will defend his harem of 20 cows or more from competing bulls and predators. Only mature bulls have large harems and breeding success peaks at about eight years of age. Bulls between two and four years and over 11 years of age rarely have harems, and spend most of the rut on the periphery of larger harems. Young and old bulls that do acquire a harem hold it later in the breeding season than do bulls in their prime. A bull with a harem rarely feeds and he may lose up to 20 percent of his body weight. Bulls that enter the rut in poor condition are less likely to make it through to the peak conception period or have the strength to survive the rigors of the oncoming winter.
Bulls have a loud vocalization consisting of screams known as bugling, which can be heard for miles. Bugling is often associated with an adaptation to open environments such as parklands, meadows, and savannas, where sound can travel great distances. Females are attracted to the males that bugle more often and have the loudest call. Bugling is most common early and late in the day and is one of the most distinctive sounds in nature, akin to the howl of the gray wolf.
Elk Bull 10/01/2013: The Elk began walking away from us but parallel to the road. I was able to get ahead of him and using a 300mm lens keep a safe distance as well. This was the last shot of this prime specimen. I felt like he was becoming annoyed with my presence so decided to call it a day and give him his space.
Nikon D7100, 28-300mmlens @170mm. Aperture f/5.6, Shutter Speed 1/250 seconds, ISO 2500, and +0.33EV. Single shot, hand held using vibration reduction. Taken early in the morning on a very cloudy day.
Fall River Area: Aspen trees, an icon of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, have leaves that transform into brilliant gold and yellow with autumn. Also known as “Quakies”, the pillar-like trunk and full foliage can hold a focal point or compliment any landscape design. Aspens offer an effective means to grow natural boundaries, defining landscape, and the beauty of Colorado
Aspens are on the “FireWise Plant List” published by the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension. This tree is considered to be fire resistant when choosing a species for planting near homes and outbuildings.
With a little consistent attention, an aspen can easily reestablish it’s root system with a propensity to grow saplings in a short period of time; a characteristic which enables a singular tree to become a grove of trees. Any unwanted saplings can be managed with a lawn mower or clippers.
An aspen has the capacity to absorb one ton of carbon from the atmosphere over its lifespan. Scientists have said that planting trees is the cheapest most effective way to deal with global warming. We encourage anyone to plant this great icon of the Rockies: the quaking aspen.