RMNP pin w. Elk

RMNP pin w. Elk

North American elk, or wapiti, were once plentiful in the Rocky Mountain National Park area. As Euro- Americans settled the Estes Valley, they hunted elk intensively sending much of the meat to market in Denver. By 1890 few, if any, elk remained.

In 1913 and 1914, before the establishment of the park, the Estes Valley Improvement Association and United States Forest Service transplanted 49 elk from Yellowstone National Park to this area. Around the same time, an all-out effort began to eliminate predators—including the gray wolf and the grizzly bear. The resulting decrease in predators probably hastened the recovery of Rocky’s elk population.

Today, Elk number about 1 million in North America. Currently, the Park’s elk population fluctuates between 600 and 800 in the winter.

Accelerating development along the park boundary is diminishing open space and blocking traditional migration routes, thus decreasing winter forage and habitat.

Location: 13-D5