DNR: Successful Calving Year Good for Growing Elk Herd | Environment
Written by the Wisconsin DNR
Despite a very late spring and hordes of biting insects, more than 250 hardy volunteers joined Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologists to search the forests near Clam Lake for elk calves during May and June. This effort revealed that the year has started out exceptionally well for Wisconsin’s growing elk herd.
Forty-five potentially pregnant cows were monitored this spring. From them, 35 to37 new calves were expected to join the herd this spring. Of the calves that were born, a total of 23 were found by volunteers and fitted with tracking collars that will provide future information about their survival. At least five additional calves have since been seen and not captured.
"Generally, late springs are tough on Wisconsin elk calves. But this year was different." said Laine Stowell, DNR elk biologist. "For the most part the elk found this spring were in great shape."
Stowell says there were two particularly encouraging characteristics of the 2013 elk calving season.
Of significant importance is that for the first time, more females were observed born than males which will help with future growth of the herd, according to Stowell.
Also of note is that no newborn calves have been lost to predation to date. Black bears are the most likely predator during their first six weeks of life. Within a week or two after giving birth, cows group together with other cows to provide added protection to newborn calves against predators.
"This is the type of calving year we always hope for," Stowell said. "A few more like this and we’ll really see some significant herd growth."
More good news for Wisconsin’s elk herd came recently with the signing of the state budget where authority was given to DNR to bring in additional wild elk to boost the Clam Lake herd and start a second wild herd in the Black River Falls area of Jackson County. Both plans have seen significant public support and financial backing from partners outside of the DNR. As a result, more elk may be arriving from a donor state starting in 2015.
For more information, visit dnr.wi.gov and search keyword "elk."