A Day with Elk

This week’s blog is a guest post by Canyon M., a Bucktails alumni. He shares his experience spending a day in the field with a biologist.

January 31, 2020, I had the most amazing experience with wildlife. As part of my outreach for the Wildlife Leadership Academy, I contacted my local state deer biologist, who happens to live near us, and scheduled a ride along for a day. The day I was riding along was an exciting one: the deer biologist, Dr. Chris Rosenberry, was going to Benezette, PA to capture, tag, collar, and check for pregnancy in female elk.

Me and a female Elk

The whole day was very interesting. We met at 4:30 am to drive to Elk County, where we connected with other elk biologists. Then, around 7 am, we free-darted a habituized elk to check for pregnancy. After using the ultra-sound and performing other routine tasks, we gave the elk a reversal for the tranquilizer, waited until the elk stood up and was okay, and then proceeded to the next elk. The next elk that we checked was in a trap called a clover trap. Named after its designer, the clover trap is a rectangular, steel box frame that has netting around it with a trap door connected to a trip line. The animal walks in to get the bait, which is alfalfa hay and walks into a wire connected to a pull pin which, in turn, releases the door down to enclose the animal. Once we processed the elk in the clover trap, we headed back towards home. On both elk, I was able to do the DNA samples and the ear tagging which was really neat.

Tallying results

Although there were only two elk and the majority of the time was spent on the road, the whole day was a fun and unique experience that I will never forget.

The photos used in this blog belong to the author.