Imagine waking up in the morning to very quiet lawnmowers. No, not your general lawn care company with an ear-safe push reel mower, but rather a herd of elk eating breakfast right outside your kitchen window! This tends to be a common phenomenon for those of us who have had the luck of purchasing a home in west Loveland.
When someone mentions the word “elk viewing” here in Northern Colorado, most people think of Rocky Mountain National Park. However, elk herds are commonly seen in the foothills. In Loveland the best spots are along HWY 34 (thus the need to drive slowly at dusk and dawn!), near the river, off of west 1st St, along Carter Lake Road, and as far east as Wilson Ave. That's right, elk viewing can be done only minutes from your home. (Note: don’t forget to respect private land!) Elk move constantly from one food source to another so a herd seen in one location may not be there the next day... or the next hour for that matter. But their roaming also gives everyone a peek at these intriguing animals.
When they make their rounds and settle on our lawn or in our pasture we will watch them for hours, thus the term “Elk TV”. Elk are the noisy group of the deer family. Although it is common to hear the eerie bugles of bull elk in the fall during mating season, calves and mothers call to one another throughout the season and this constant communication is mesmerizing.
A Herd of Our Own
The Loveland herd, as it's often called, contains some 200 elk who live in Loveland year-round, but two smaller herds actually make up this local population. The locals are joined by hundreds more elk for the winter (as many as 700 in 2012!). These elk often move between Estes Park and Loveland, traveling quickly enough to make the trip in a single day.
Scientists are working to improve the habitat along migration corridors so that elk don't have to venture into town as frequently to find food, but for now we are happy to welcome these neighbors.