Home on the Range
A stunning photo taken by USGS's Katie Walters, earlier this month, in the high country of Rocky Mountain National Park off of Trail Ridge Road.
Elk were eradicated from the area that now comprises of Rocky Mountain National Park by human exploitation in the late 1800's. They were reintroduced to the park in the early 1900's and the population steadily increased. The elk population ideally ranges between 600-800 animals within the park's winter range to stay in compliance with the NPS Elk & Vegetation Management Plan. The Plan is a multi-agency conservation effort which utilizes tools such as fencing, possible elk redistribution, culling, and vegetation restoration to manage elk and protect vegetation, such as low-elevation aspens. With the removal of the elk's natural predators, wolves and grizzly bears, the park's elk populations may again reach the maximum population that the area can sustain indefinitely.