WATCH: Intense Footage of ‘Massive’ Elk Herd Released by Colorado Wildlife Officials

by Jon D. B.

Calling all outdoor enthusiasts: this incredible series of footage highlights a wild elk herd the likes of which is rarely captured on film.

For many Outsiders, elk are some of nature’s most revered and beloved creatures. Their size, strength, and beauty have captivated mankind for millennia; their likeness carved into everything from our first artworks on cave walls to prestigous family crests – and their namesakes congruently branding humanity’s most sacred places. And for good reason.

Offering up further proof of their majesty is this brilliant set of helicopter footage from the wildlife officials at Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Southeast Region. The clips, which hit social media early Monday morning, showcase a truly massive elk herd sprinting their way through the wilds outside Denver.

As part of their State Parks southeast region annual big game survey, the series of five videos marks an incredible display of wildlife in snowy Salida. Flying high above the herd, park biologists use these helicopter surveys to find, track, and report big game animals. If this doesn’t sound impressive enough, these officials must also count the animals within the herds and identify both their sex and health standards simultaneously. Sounds like a job for some incredible folks, right? Right.

While in flight, park officials count the elk bulls and cows present in a herd. But they’re not just counting elk. CPW biologists are also responsible for counting the rams and ewes of local bighorn sheep herds – the bucks and does among deer populations, pronghorns, and other megafauna.

All of this serves to help biologists map big game migration patterns, alongside their seasonal movements. The data is invaluable for everything from wildlife conservation and hunting to land and park management.

Immense Elk Herd on Brilliant Display in CPW Footage

“Remember the low-flying aircraft alert we sent our recently for the @COParksWildlife Southeast Region? Here’s some video from Jamin Grigg, CPW biologist based in Salida,” the region’s team starts off on Twitter. “We conduct flights each year to assess the health of big game herds. This is an elk herd.”

Expertly-shot footage, like Grigg’s intense look at this massive elk herd above, is also used to track herd connectivity. The data goes a long way in helping tab everything from breeding patterns to the spread of zoological diseases.

Further Footage Showcases Colorado’s Bighorn Sheep

There’s plenty more where that came from, too. CPW’s Southeast Region posts the enormous elk herd’s movement as part of a series of five. In their second round of footage, fellow local species – bighorn sheep – are featured.

“Hop in the helicopter with Jamin Grigg, @COParksWildlife biologist conducting big game surveys in the high country of the Upper Arkansas River Valley,” the park continues in part two of their post. “You must spot the herd, count, ID sex and health in a few seconds. Here we see 12 bighorn sheep – 5 rams, 7 ewes,” they add of the second clip, referring to the incredible work the biologist’s routinely perform.

Enormous Bull Elk Spotted Galloping Together

“Another easy one,” the park jokes of their thirdy entry – this one also focusing in on an elk herd.

“Check out the five bull elk spotted by @COParksWildlife biologist Jamin Grigg and his helicopter pilot on a recent big game survey flight. Other herds are not so easy to count and classify.”

Can You Spot The Big Game on Display Here?

“It’s impossible to count all deer, elk, moose, pronghorn etc in CO. So @COParksWildlife bios fly to get random samples,” CPW clarifies in their fourth post.

“They ID herds by sex & age & use data to generate male-to-female ratios, estimate populations & compare to CPW targets. Data used to set hunting licenses.”

Final Footage Shows Elk Herd Crossing Snowy Wilds

For their fifth and final post in the series, CPW officials clarify that “Short duration of flight disturbances are warranted by the important biological data @COParksWildlife gets on big game migration patterns, herd connectivity and seasonal movements.”

As for why they’re filming this time of year? “We fly in winter when herds concentrate and visibility is best.”

Does Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s footage have you hankering for more incredible big game footage and news? We’ve got you covered here at with everything that makes our American wilds the wonder they are.