This is the time of year when the majority of the elk are born. The tagging process at the Elk Country Visitors Center is very exclusive. Only a small group is invited to attend each year.
“So many people when they think about the elk only think about the big bulls with the antlers, and this is something totally different and unique,” said Carla Wehler, Keystone Elk Country Alliance.
Cow elk begin calving in the first two weeks of June, which is when biologist Jeremy Banefield begins the tagging process.
It wasn’t long until the group came along a baby calf lying in the tall grass.
“When the calves are first born they use that hiding strategy. They’re not going to be very visible,” said Banefield.
Now the tagging process can begin. Wildlife officials first determine the gender of the calf and can tell the age by it’s hooves.
The calf is then bagged and weighed. Most come in at around forty pounds.
“It’s the same thing we would do with human babies. Where we weigh and measure them to make sure they’re where they should be,” Banefield said.
Wildlife officials say it’s safer to track the elk heard in groups.
“Every cow is going to have maternal instincts. When we have individuals surrounding the calf, the mom is nearby but she’s not going to interfere,” said Banefield.
Instead of charging at the group, the elk calls out in distress. But the tagging process does not take a long time and the mom is shortly reunited with her baby.