When autumn comes to the Yellowstone and
National Park, the elk make their way
down out of the mountains to the National Elk Refuge, a winter habitat set
aside for them in . The refuge was created in 1912 to provide
sanctuary for the largest elk herd (around 7,500) on earth. Jackson Hole,
The elk are easy to see from the highway which goes between
Jackson and Yellowstone.
A heavy and high fence, seen here in the foreground, keeps them off the road.
Elk are second only to moose in size as a deer species.
“wapiti” which means, literally, white rump. Shawnee
The big bulls stand taller than five feet at the shoulder
and their five-tined antlers tower almost four feet above their heads.
In March the bulls shed their antlers. After the antlers fall off they walk around for quite a while with their heads down. I don’t know if this is because the empty place leaves a sore spot or if they are just embarrassed to loose their handsome crowns.
In the winter they feed on grass and shrubs in the snow.
The meals are probably pretty yucchy compared to their
summer menu of green leaves and branches.
The herd is kept alive during the hard winters through feeding. The refuge also provides horse drawn sleigh rides to the public during the winter months so that visitors have the opportunity to see portions of the herd up close.
The National Elk Refuge covers nearly 25,000 acres of real estate right next to the tony town of
celebrities come to be seen at the two high-end ski resorts. Personally, I think the elk and the landscape
are the stars of the show. Jackson