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News: First calf seen up an running at Oconaluftee! June 21, 2016.
Late spring is calving season on the Elk lands. Mother cows seeking solitude and safety find separate places to birth their calves. Not only do moms wish to keep predators from finding their babes, but also other Elk. You can just imagine the injury a 5 foot tall Elk with hard hooves could do to a baby Elk.
Moms hiding newborn babes is the reason the herd is dispersed, and will be so until the calves can run from danger. Until then what we will see of the herd are yearlings and cows who have not birthed yet.
In 2015, 10 calves were born. One calf was hit by a car and so 9 survived. This year we expect to see 13 calves in the Smoky Mountain Oconaluftee herd about the first of July.
Big Bull of Oconaluftee
|Elk returned to the Carolina mountains 15 years ago. There are now as
200 Elk in the Carolina Smokies. Spread out across many
the Elk are
probably going to survive. Many calves
survive their first
year. Male calves
grow into bulls, grow antlers
and wander off on their
own in their second year.
In summer the Elk
herd for mating and the bulls
Calves are born in late spring. Barely able to walk they hide in the woods until able to walk. Before long they are eating grass but continue to nurse for months. It takes about one year for a calf to reach almost full size. One cow that recently died was estimated to have lived 22 years. Automobile collisions are the main killers of these Elk. There are few wolves or panthers in the Smokies. Bears have been known to prey upon calves, but once a calf can run, bears can't bother them. >>>> Links