Elk birthing and antler season has arrived

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ELK COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – Spring is known as a time of re-birth… and for elk, that means mother’s are giving birth to their calves.

A very exciting time of the year, calves typically begin being born the first week of June.

However, it will be a little while until you start to see fields filled with the new additions to the herd. For the first few weeks, they will be hiding, using the tall grass they were born, as well as the white spots on their coats in as protection from potential dangers.

“They use those spots to blend in as the light filtrates through the leaves,” said Ben Porkolab, the Elk Country Visitor’s Center education coordinator

Their mothers leave them alone throughout the day to not give up their location. Instead, she will visit them 3-4 times a day, to nurse them milk, and lick them clean, as a way to keep them scent free.

“Keeping them scent free is going to help with predation. Coyotes, black bears sometimes predate on the elk calves,” Porkolab said.

But that’s not all you’ll catch, male elk are growing their antlers. These antlers are the fastest growing bone tissue in the world, growing as much as an inch a day.
This occurs between May – August.

“While they’re growing, they’re covered in velvet,” Porkolab said. “Underneath that velvet are thousands of blood vessels that carry nutrients to all parts of the antler. That is how they can grow so fast.”

Then, as the velvet dries up, and starts to shed.

“That’s when you see these bulls, as well as male white tail deer rubbing their antlers on trees and shrubs,” Porkolab said.

Once their antlers are fully shed in the fall, mating season begins.

“They’re using these antlers to attract the females,” Porkalob said. “And also to fight one another for dominance, and for breeding rights with the females.”

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