WATCH: Elk Stampede Barrels Down Shore of Colorado’s Lake Estes

by Courtney Blackann
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Colorado has some of the most gorgeous scenery in the country. Between grand mountains covered in snow, clear blue rivers and stunning fields that roll for miles, it’s simply breathtaking. When you’re lucky enough to witness its beauty, there’s a fair chance you’ll also discover some of the state’s wildlife. In one visitor’s trip to the area’s Lake Estes, a stampede of elk greeted the tourist spot – and it was captured on video.

Along the lake, a tourist was documenting the sunny day. The scene is brightly lit by the sun with patches of golden grass. Running down a trail, more than a dozen elk come stampeding through the area in a majestic display.

The animals are known for migrating in different seasons. As they barrel down the trail, you can hear the click of their hooves against the pavement. They look almost unbothered being in close proximity as humans.

Elk Population Faces Drought

While elk are resilient and smart creatures, this year’s drought has put them in a rough spot. Like humans in the western United States, animals also suffered from extreme temperatures as well as depleted water sources.

In California, the Tule elk population is depleting. While there were more than 500,000 just a few years ago, their population is dwindling. Drought conditions didn’t help the issue. Now it’s up to volunteers in the area to provide for the elk, before they succumb to the elements.

About 70 people traveled six miles to the elk habitat to bring the animals 100 gallons of freshwater. The water will help, but the forage remains an issue.

“Poor forage quality is the underlying cause of these elk population declines. Although the National Park Service (NPS) and California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) believe the elk population declines are drought-related, there is no evidence that the population decline is due to dehydration or a lack of water,” according to the National Park Service announcement.

They went on to add:

“Point Reyes National Seashore is providing supplemental water to the Tomales Point Tule Elk Reserve in response to unprecedented drought conditions. Although some natural water sources continue to be available, these sources may dry if this year becomes the worst drought on record for Marin County as expected.

“Marin County declared a drought emergency mid-May with the lowest recorded rainfall during the last 16 months in more than 140 years recorded by the Marin Municipal Water District.”

The animals are still at risk of suffering from the weather and elements. The once hefty population has declined to just 5,000. Though they live on a reserve, it’ll be up to humans to take charge of their survival.

Outsider.com