Sunday, June 19, 2011

Pennsyilvania Elk Herd Increases As Calves Are Born

Most Pennsylvania Elk Calves Are Born In Early To Mid-June
Most Pennsylvania elk calves are born from late May to mid-June, with Carol Mulvihill reporting in her May 28th "Endeavor News" column, that she had her  first calf sighting of the year on May 22, but it seems that most are born somewhat later--most likely during the first two weeks of June.

I spent several days in Pennsylvania Elk Country last week, photographing, and filming the young calves and bulls in velvet.   The Pennsylvania Game Commission again hosted the "Wild About Elk" workshop, which it has held for the past several years (I attended last year).  The workshop is geared toward giving educators and outdoor writers, etc.  the tools they need to promote interest in elk and other wildlife among their students, or other target audience as the case might be.  I was fortunate enough to encounter PGC Northcentral Regional Biologist, Tony Ross Wednesday morning on Winslow Hill where he was helping to conduct a tour of SGL 311, which is an integral part of the workshop.  I first met Tony when he conducted a training session for our Game Lands Management Group, soon after I became a Maintenance Supervisor for the PGC in 2002.  I have encountered him a few times since over the years including at last year's workshop, and it was good to have another opportunity to chat about past experiences, elk biology, and photography.  Soon Ron "Buckwheat" Saffer, and Paul Staniszewski arrived and joined in the discussion.

Northcentral Regional Biologist, Tony Ross and Ron Saffer Discuss Elk Biology And Habitat
Paul Staniszewski Contributes To Discussion
 Mr. Ross remarked on how much Winslow Hill has changed in the past few years due to the reclamation work, and there was general agreement as to the astounding beauty of the view from the area in which we were standing atop "The Saddle" and how the planting of  grains and grasses, and strips of nut producing trees for food, and evergreens  for winter cover benefits wildlife. None of the open areas in the photo below, existed before 2007, but they are now havens for elk, deer, turkeys, and other game and non-game wildlife species.  There is a common misconception that more trees is always better, but many species thrive best in a mixture of woodlands and openings and a mixed habitat such as is shown in the photo below will support more wildlife than a forested monoculture.

Reclaimed Strip Mines Maintained As Food Plots Are Perfect Elk Habitat
Reverting meadows, which feature a mixture of grasses, weeds, and shrubs are also excellent habitat, and are favorite spots for elk to give birth, as the grasses and shrubs provide food for the cows, and excellent cover in which the newborn animals may hide from predators.

 Look closely at the photo below and you will note a cow standing in the center of the meadow and back somewhat toward the treeline.  The animal was there at dark on Thursday evening before, was still there at dawn on Friday and had not left the spot by 9:00 am.  This indicated that she was ready to give birth or had already done so.

Reverting Meadows Make Prime Habitat For Young Calves
I took several photographs of her with the 500mmF4 and when I loaded them in Photoshop after arriving home, I was amazed to see proof positive that birth had occurred.  Look closely at the photo below and you can see afterbirth materials dangling from the cow. (click to enlarge)

Afterbirth Is Still Attached To Cow
Stay tuned as we cover more highlights from the trip in the near future.

Originally posted at Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer by Willard Hill


Anonymous said...

Nice photographs Willard. I always like your wildlife pictures. Your human pictures are just as good. Great picture of Paul Staniszewski.

richard l coy said...

Great job on this Willard sorry I had missed you on Wednesday, I seen Buckwheat and finally had met Paul for a minute or 2 there.

Keep up the good work Im sure it wont go unnoticed.

Ruth's Photo Blog said...

THat little one is adorable.

Paul said...

Willard... Great capture of the new born calf.

JimB said...


Once again a very informative post. I enjoy reading them and I learn from them and I always enjoy your photography!


Anonymous said...

Very nice photos, Willard.

Anonymous said...

nice to see 'em munchng on the foliage! beautiful!
what kind of insane barbarians would wish to shoot such beautiful creatures?
thanks for the wonderful images.
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Models From The Earth