Friday, March 04, 2011


We are at 3rd and Spruce and this is probably the fellow that was also seen on the trail next to our place.  Here is the story from the Boulder Daily Camera:

"He's huge."
That's how JoOnna Silberman describes the six-point bull elk that's been grazing near Spruce and Fourth streets in Boulder since last week.

"I'd say (he's) the size of a 17-hand horse," she said.

Silberman and her neighbors have sighted the animal walking down to Spruce Street from the mountains around 9 p.m. for the past several evenings. They assume that it wanders back up into the foothills sometime in the early morning because it hasn't been seen during the day.

Officials from the Colorado Department of Wildlife acknowledge that the city of Boulder is near an elk-friendly habitat.

Seeing one "would not be unheard of," said DOW spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill. "They move around quite a bit."

Former University of Colorado ecology and biology professor Dave Armstrong said the animals don't fear coming into neighborhoods.

"They're not adverse to traffic, and they're not adverse to people, but they're not too smart," he said.

Weighing 450 to 900 pounds, elk are the largest species of deer in Colorado. They primarily eat grasses, but may also eat bark and the twigs of trees and shrubs during the winter, when grass is more difficult to find, according to DOW.

Despite the devastating effects of last September's Fourmile Fire, Boulder
County wildlife biologist Dave Hoerath does not believe the elk are just seeking greener pastures.

"There are plenty of elk in the county; they're just not very public," he said, listing a herd

A bull elk pays a visit to Fifth and Spruce streets in Boulder on a recent night around 11:45 p.m. Neighbors have sighted the animal walking down to Spruce Street from the mountains for the past several evenings. ( Jim Robb )of more than 200 that likes the expanse north of Boulder between Lyons and Lefthand Canyon Drive and another that winters in the region near Sugarloaf Road.

Hoerath assumes that the bull spotted on Spruce Street is a member of the latter herd.

Though elk are not carnivores, Churchill warns against getting too close.

"Obviously with their size, we don't want anyone approaching elk," she said, recommending that people keep their distance and for those who want photos to use an extended lens. "Your cell phone isn't going to get you that National Geographic photo."

Taking pictures may seem harmless, but if an animal changes behavior -- looks around or stops eating, for example -- while it's being observed, then the onlooker is too close, Churchill said.

So far, no plans have been made to remove the animal from the location, Churchill said. Public safety is of primary importance, she said, but the DOW will not make any moves until there appears to be a threat.

"If we can avoid having to move them or put our hands on them, then we choose that," she said. "The best option is to let them move on."

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