Jun 11 2014
June is “baby” time in Pennsylvania’s woods with fledgling birds, tiny rabbits, young groundhogs and cute fawns.
As I mentioned last week young animals found alone are not abandoned, they’re just waiting for mom. You shouldn’t “rescue” fawns and if you’re lucky enough to see an elk calf in Pennsylvania, don’t go near it!
Just like white-tailed deer, elk mothers tell their calves to “Stay!” while they go off to feed. White-tailed deer are afraid of humans and don’t raise a fuss about their fawns but elk cows are big and powerful. If you approach an elk calf, its mother may attack.
An elk cow doesn’t have antlers, but she’s not something you want to tangle with. She weighs about 500 pounds, stands 4.5 feet tall at the shoulder and is 6.5 feet long from nose to rump. When she charges, you’re the one who’ll need to be rescued!
Paul Staniszewski is quite familiar with the elk herd near Benezette, PA and explains: “Although the elk are used to seeing people, they are still very much wild and will become unpredictable and aggressive when it comes to protecting their young. If a protective female elk is endangering people in a public area, move away and call the PA Game Commission. They will temporarily close the area until the mother moves on with her calf.”
Just like humans, wildlife mothers do what they can to protect their young. Hawks and peregrines swoop at humans, mother skunks spray, black bears and elk charge. Yes, a sudden attack by a wild animal is frightening. It’s meant to be! You’re at the hands of an outraged mother and she wants you to leave.
When you’re outdoors be aware of your surroundings and watch for wildlife. Remember that mothers are protective. It’s all part of being a mom.
(photo by Paul Staniszewski)