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Facts About Wildlife

Facts About Wildlife


Mule Deer

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

Black Bear


Protect Our Friends 

Help keep wildlife wild. Never feed the animals (it’s against the law and bad for the animals’ health), and never approach or harass wildlife. Drive carefully through wildlife areas, especially at night. Elk, deer, and bighorn sheep seldom travel alone. If one animal crosses the road, others are sure to follow.

Red Fox

Yellow-Bellied Marmot

American Pika


Did You Know? 

Most animals with antlers: only the male has antlers, and they are shed each spring. Animals with horns: both male and female have horns, and they are never shed.


Elk In Estes Park

In the mid-1870s, Estes Park was opened to homesteading and many pioneer families arrived. Many visitors began to retreat to the area as well. As a result of hunting for subsistence, income, leisure, and sport, the elk population vanished in Estes Park by 1880.

The idea to re-introduce elk to the Estes Park area was first brought to light in 1909 and then revived again by a group of citizens in 1913. Spearheaded by local Pieter Hondius, sufficient funds were raised to purchase twenty-five young elk from Yellowstone National Park, and then twenty-four more elk in March of 1915. These populations thrived. Rocky Mountain National Park was established in September of 1915 and became a protected area from human hunting. With the previous hunting of local wolf and grizzly bear populations, elk’s main predators were extinct locally. Other predator populations, such as mountain lion and coyote, were kept extremely low with “active predator control” in Estes Park right after the elk reintroduction and through the 1920s.

Today, there are thousands of elk in the Estes Valley–a number considered high for this area.

A twelve-year-old, thousand-pound, eight-by-nine point rack bull elk, named Samson, was celebrated throughout the community. He was illegally killed on the grounds of the YMCA in 1995. With the poacher captured, the State Legislature passed “Samson’s Law” in 1998, allowing extra penalties to be applied to poaching trophy animals.

Today, the elk is the unofficial mascot of Estes Park.


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