Posted by: Frame To Frame - Bob and Jean | December 15, 2016

Elk in a snowy meadow near Lake Louise

elk sitting on snow near lake louise 2

One afternoon during our stay in Banff National Park, Alberta, Bob and I decided to take a drive from Lake Louise along the Bow Valley Parkway, a quieter highway than the Trans Canada, only two-lane versus four.  We were in hopes of spotting some wildlife and were on the lookout for elk in particular.  Seeing another vehicle pulled to the side of the road, we slowed to have a look.  At first, we didn’t notice the Elk laying in the snow but rather thought the tourists were admiring yet another beautiful mountain peak.

elk on snowy meadow near lake louise

Along the Bow Valley Parkway, one stunning mountain peak rises up to the sky in quick succession after another.  Each one has its own unique beauty and demands admiration, so it is wonderful that the lack of traffic on that scenic route allows for ample opportunities to pull over.  When I snapped this photo, I completely overlooked the two elk at rest in the frosty meadow.

bull elk in winter near lake louise

When we became aware of the two animals, Bob and I couldn’t believe our luck.  We knew them to be two males as only they have antlers, and one of them seemed younger than the other judging by the different sizes of their antlers.  The antlers are shed each March,  so this pair would be losing theirs soon, but they start growing anew in the spring, in May, so they are ready for show and demonstrations of prowess during breeding season in late summer.

bull elk eats in snow near lake louise 2

The bone making up the antlers grows quickly, 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) per day.  Although we were impressed with the racks on these two elk, they were relatively small.  The antlers of some bull elk grow as large as 1.2 metres (4 ft) long and can weigh 22 kilograms (48 lb).  A bull, itself, can weigh as much as 180-450 kilograms (400-1000 lb).

elk on snowy field near lake louise

When Bob and I quietly exited our car, it seemed that the elk were not inclined to move away, and we could see where other people had made trails across the meadow for a closer look.  We cautiously trudged through the deep snow towards the recumbent bull, using the edge of the forest as cover.  Wolf tracks crisscrossed the snow, and we even saw some fresh scat.

Source:  Elk in a snowy meadow near Lake Louise in Alberta

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