Last week, Idaho Fish and Game officials discovered something that seems like it would be right at home in a horror film; a grisly elk boneyard. They found it at the bottom of a steep hill in Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area, near Lewiston, Idaho. The bones were buried among rocks and debris. Officials believed the elk herd was caught in a landslide and killed at the bottom of the gully.
Mark Shepard, Idaho Fish and Game senior wildlife technician, took a video of the eerie boneyard. “All of this is elk,” he said in the video, showing the extent of the strange graveyard. “At least 15 heads and four collars found…and a lot of broken legs.”
Shepard referred to the GPS tracking collars that some of the elk wore. IDFG used these to monitor the herds. In a press release, Shepard explained that one of the collars emitted a mortality signal in the Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area. IDFG officials headed out to the area and found the tragic boneyard.
“With the data and GPS location provided by the collar, wildlife staff were able to navigate to the location of the collar,” Shepard explained. “When wildlife staff arrived at the location of the radio collar, they discovered the surprising but unfortunate story of what had occurred.”
The theory from IDFG is that the elk herd was “side-hilling” along the steep ridge. They were then caught in a landslide. According to Outdoor Life, the elk were then carried nearly 1,000 feet down into the gully. An unfortunate end for these regal animals, but nature is sometimes cruel.
Elk Crashes July Fourth Concert Near Rocky Mountain National Park
In more lighthearted elk news, a female elk stopped in to listen to some music at an outdoor concert. Over the Fourth of July weekend, Estes Park native Brad Fitch (or Cowboy Brad to his fans) was giving a free concert in a public park. Then, an elk wandered over to see what all the fuss was about. Fitch politely tipped his hat to the elk and kept on playing. But, he kept a sharp eye on her the entire time.
In an interview with KKTV out of Colorado Springs, Fitch described the incident. He also explained why he reacted so calm and collected. Turns out, he’s much more than just a singing cowboy.
“For the past fourteen years I have worked as a Wilderness Ranger in Rocky Mountain National Park,” Fitch revealed. “In that capacity, and because I was raised here in Estes Park, I’ve been around the elk my whole life basically. I have had many interactions with them, and I have seen what they do. So, I just kept a good eye on her and I used my subtle body language and observed hers, and knew she was just curious. And sure enough, once she’d gotten enough, she gradually walked away.”