Tetons Wildlife: Elk

October 22, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

The bugling of male elk to advertise ownership of females is an unmistakable sign of the arrival of fall in elk habitat.  In Grand Teton National Park, the sound of bugling usually begins in early October as elk herds descend from high-elevation summer ranges and move into open woodlands and meadows in the Park's valleys.

On my recent visit to the Tetons, only small numbers of elk had made this transition from summer to fall range but the behaviors associated with the elk rut – bugling, wallowing, and herding and courting of females, were definitely in progress.

Elk (Cervus canadensis), Grand Teton National Park, WyomingElk (Cervus canadensis), Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Elk (Cervus canadensis), Grand Teton National Park, WyomingElk (Cervus canadensis), Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

An elk’s antlers are testosterone-fueled, growing rapidly during the summer months and then shed each winter after the breeding season is over.  The antlers can weigh up to 40 lbs and grow to over 3 feet in length.

Though carrying an impressive set of antlers, this male had yet to attract any females and seemed completely intent on grazing. Elk (Cervus canadensis), Grand Teton National Park, WyomingElk (Cervus canadensis), Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

To view the complete gallery of Grand Teton National Park images, click here.


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