Saturday, March 23, 2013

Elk Herd at Jackson Hole

Jackson Hole, Wyoming is the destination for up to 15,000 migrating elk every winter.  The huge herd is spread out in the mountains during the summer, but descends to the sheltered valley in the winter.
Civilization has taken over much of the historic elk feeding grounds, so people help feed these animals during the winter, until they can return to the mountains in summer.  The biggest herds are nearly all cow elk and immature bulls.  The mature bulls tend to stay in separate smaller herds.
The scenery is wonderful here at the National Elk Refuge near Grand Teton National Park.  These photos were taken on a day of off-and-on snow storms.  Brief streaks of light changed to snow squalls in a matter of seconds.
These young bulls practiced sparring with their spike antlers.  This playing will be much more serious in a year or two when the mature bulls battle for females.  Horse-drawn wagon rides are available to take you out to see the elk, but we were lucky to be able to watch this herd from a road through the refuge.

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