Monday, October 29, 2012

Western Elk, Eastern Elk

Two photos. Each of an elk. The first photo was taken in September of this year at Rocky Mountain National Park during the rut. The second photo was taken in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park just after the rut in late October of 2011.

Other than slight variations s in the shade of their coats, I cannot see any difference between the animals. It could be that the Rocky Mountain elk was a tad heavier than the eastern counterpart, but it's hard to say. I was farther away from the one in Rocky Mountain National Park than I was from the bull I saw in the Smokies.

And of the two, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park individual seems to have the greater rack size.

The nicest thing, though, is that we have these great animals here in the Southeast again. I never really thought I'd see it happen.

Bull elk in Rocky Mountain National Park late last month.

Bull elk in Great Smoky Mountains National Park last October.


Turner Sharp said...

I have always been under the impression that the Eastern Elk were gone from the eastern forests by the mid to late 1800's and the ones we have now are all stockings from the western herds.

HemlockMan said...

That is indeed what happened. The eastern elk was exterminated probably some time in the late 1700s or early 1800s. Everything in the east now are elk taken from the west.

I am always surprised that the eastern elk are as large as the western animals. They've adapted well, it seems. A fellow from an elk hunting group told me that he expected that eventually the North American record elk would be bagged here in the east.