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Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Elk Living, Elk Dying

Making it to adulthood does not mean an easy life for an elk. Life in the wild is a constant test of fitness. Dodging disease, injury, predators and the like is a full time job. Oh, and then there is hunting season.

roosevelt elk at night
Roosevelt elk at night (Cervus canadensis roosevelti)

In the west wolves are returning and cougar populations are growing. The timberland that was once a refuge is now a potential trap. Pack wolves roam the open country looking for the any sign of weakness.

bull elk
rocky mountain elk in timber (Cervus canadensis nelsoni)

If an elk is lucky enough to make it to old age, then the winters become the true test. A harsh winter will kill many adults - usually the older ones.

red-tailed hawk on dead elk
red-tailed hawk feeding on a winter killed elk

elk bone
bleached elk bone

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Portland, Oregon, United States
Husband, Father, Student Of Natural History, Photographer