For many years Paul Staniszewski has photographed Pennsylvania’s elk herd near Benezette, Pennsylvania, often with beautiful and impressive results such as this photo of a bull nicknamed “Attitude.”
But he hadn’t been able to capture a good photograph of a newborn calf … until last month.
Paul sent me the picture above and wrote, “Since I have been photographing elk, I was never able to get a decent shot of a new born elk calf. There always seemed to be some problem: the calf was too skittish, the grass was too tall, the mother was being too protective, the light was not good, and etc… Well on this occasion [June 12], I finally was able to get what I consider to be a perfect photo of an elk calf that was born just hours before.”
As you can see, elk calves resemble white-tailed deer fawns. What you can’t tell by the picture is the calf’s size. Adult elk are 3-4 times larger than white-tailed deer and their babies are too. Elk calves weigh 30 pounds at birth compared to newborn fawns at 4-10 pounds.
You might think a baby this large would be easy to see, especially since elk live in a herd, but the mothers go off alone to give birth and they are very protective of their young.
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.
She’ll charge at you if she thinks you’re a threat to her baby.
That’s why her newborn calf is a rare sight.
Thanks to Paul Staniszewski for sharing his photos. For more views of Pennsylvania’s elk and information on photographing them, see his website here.
(photos by Paul Staniszewski)