Elk NetworkThe ‘Other Wildlife’ of RMEF

General | October 20, 2023

(Photo credit: Laura Verhaeghe)

It landed in our inboxes at midday on a Friday – a campus message to keep Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation employees up to speed on the latest safety and security updates as well as other campus information. The post also featured a series of security camera photos (see below) recently captured on RMEF property highlighting an array of wildlife. 

Of course, wildlife is nothing new to RMEF. After all, the organization’s mission is to ensure the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage. The Elk Country Visitor Center features hands-on, interactive exhibits including a wildlife diorama and one of the most impressive collections of elk mounts seen anywhere. So yes, it is a given that elk are a big thing there. But what about “other wildlife?” 

RMEF land conservation and access projects, habitat stewardship work and wildlife management projects greatly benefit all kinds of other wildlife like mule and whitetail deer, moose, pronghorn antelope, grizzly and black bears, mountain lions, upland birds, raptors, songbirds, fish, small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects and on and on and on. 

Back to the memo. The five photos captured five different species of critters – wild turkey, a skunk, whitetail deer that obviously have no problem jumping over the lower section of wildlife-friendly fencing, a black bear and a cat or fox or something or other that’s a bit blurry. 

RMEF is and has been home to many other wild animals over the years. One day after an employee brought a fly rod to work, a planned lunch-hour fishing excursion to Grant Creek which runs through the property, had to be scuttled because an email from HR (Human Resources) cautioned someone saw a mountain lion along the creek that morning.  

Black bear visits are much more common. In the early 2000s, a black bear hibernated among downfall not even 40 yards from the main headquarters building. Several years later, in 2015, a big and beautiful cinnamon-colored furball caused a bit of excitement during a prolonged visit to RMEF property. 

(Photo credit: Laura Verhaeghe)

Photo credit: Bert Linder

Deer are the most frequent big game visitors but what about elk? Live wild elk, that is. There is a “home herd,” so to speak, nearby RMEF headquarters. The North Hills Herd lives in the hills and mountains above the Grant Creek corridor. Researchers captured and placed radio collars on some of those elk over the years to learn more about the herd’s movements and habitat usage. During the winter, especially when snow piles up in the high country, the North Hills herd is often seen just above RMEF because grass-covered slopes supply important winter forage. 

And you don’t need security footage to see that. 

Whitetail fawn – 2014

Lounging outside a conference room window – 2013