Drama with the Elk in Banff

We had the opportunity to watch a herd of elk, in Banff. Within a herd of more than 80 elk, it would appear that there were two dominant bulls, some lesser bulls, some juvenile bulls with the remainder being cows and juveniles. Above the road we were on, was the dominant bull elk, with a large number of cows. Below the road, there was another large bull elk, with a lesser number of cows. This bull elk, and the cows were clearly agitated and restless. Meanwhile we heard bugling, from the dominant bull in the upper herd. Slowly but surely the cows from the smaller, lower heard started to migrate to the upper herd and the dominant bull. This caused great distress for the other bull and he made moves on several occasions to cross toward the upper herd, presumably to challenge the other bull, Each time he proceeded, he backed off, eventually settling down in the lower field. Meanwhile two lesser bulls started sparring. The following photos illustrate the drama that played out.

Some of the cows and juveniles in the upper herd.
The dominant bull elk, with two juveniles.
The second dominant elk with the lower herd, pacing back and forth. He was extremely agitated and made several short charges. The marks on its side are likely the result of a previous battle with the other bull. We had heard reports that they had indeed battled the day before.
Two cows from the lower herd. They seemed very nervous of the bull and were chased at one point.
The second bull elk, after deciding not to challenge the bull from the upper herd.
Cows from the lower herd, migrating to the upper herd and the dominant bugling bull.
Younger bull elk, trying to establish “pecking order”.

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