It’s pretty common to catch two or three elk sneaking through the paddock at night to glean Mucky’s uneaten extra hay, but last night, a whole herd came down, and we watched and listened to the whole drama.
Usually their hoofprints give their nightly visitations away, and occasionally we’ll catch them out when we leave the barn suddenly, which makes them all leap and thunder away. I watched from my truck one night as three of them quietly crept along, ears on swivels and nervous about lowering their heads to eat. I love the way elk look, with their furry neck scarves. They’ve pushed over a couple fence posts from last summer, and their regularly used path out of the woods is more of an elk highroad now.
We lost track at nine of them last night, all appearing in twos or threes. They flanked the horse and pushed him out of his defensive position standing over his food, then crowded tight in the small patch of hay scraps on the snow to eat. There was a juvenile among them, and one laggard that seemed extra cautious and challenged by the fence. Some even drank water from the horse buckets as they passed. A couple of times, they argued over the spoils, and two reared up and stood hovering on their back legs, front legs tucked and chest to chest with each other.
At what stage does this become a problem?