The holiday season is a magical time of year. While the other ten months can pass in the blink of an eye, time seems to slow in November and December, the days filled with time spent among friends and family, our focus shifting toward making memories with those we love most.
That said, the most wonderful time of the year is also the time for the most unwanted guests. Everyone has a Cousin Eddie, the family member you only see for Thanksgiving lunch but whose presence never fails to wear on your nerves.
At least Cousin Eddie doesn’t trample your yard and leave your grass covered in droppings, though (well…we hope not). This year, a massive herd of elk did just that to a resident of Loveland, Colorado.
In the video shared by Unofficial Networks, a resident watches as hundreds of elk parade past their home, politely filing through a narrow pathway near a stream. “A few unexpected Thanksgiving guests this morning…” the resident said.
Colorado is Home to the Largest Elk Population in the World
Though an odd sight to behold for those of us living in the Southeast, Colorado residents are no strangers to elk herds. In fact, The Centennial State is home to the largest elk population in the entire world. And though elks split into smaller groups called harems (made up of one male and several females) for mating season, they typically travel in large herds.
A standard herd includes at least 200 elk, with some reaching 400 members or more, their numbers growing in the winter months. During the summer and winter, these herds migrate, moving to higher, cooler elevations to beat the heat and lower, warmer elevations to stay warm. They’re most active in the morning and evening, which explains the Thanksgiving visitors’ early morning procession.
Elk herd on the move – we’re the proud home of the largest elk population in the world.— Colorado Parks and Wildlife (@COParksWildlife) November 16, 2022
📸: Courtesy of Eric N. Olson pic.twitter.com/PErHyym9hS
Because of their size, winter coat, and larger fat reserves, elk handle winter better than their deer relatives. Their thick, wooly winter coats are an astounding five times warmer than the summer coats they replace. Additionally, elk are far less shy about staying well-fed. Elk have been known to fight horses and cows for their hay to survive the barren winter months.
“Adult bulls are aggressive toward horses and cattle,” Daryl Meints, wildlife manager for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, explained to Nature.org. “We’ve had several cattle and horses, expensive horses, gored by adult bulls. Elk can do damage and cause death. For whatever reason, this year is probably the most aggressive I’ve seen elk.”