Huge Elk Herd Gathers Outside Home In Oregon Town
A woman filmed a large herd of elk that gathered at a neighbor’s home in Gearhart, Oregon this past summer. The amazing moment began when her father was taking photos of ten elk by their home. She told ViralHog:
“This is a local elk herd but seeing them this close together does not happen often (I’ve never seen another video or picture before). My dad had been taking pictures of a smaller group of ten elk and walked back to our house and said ‘you might want to go back out because the elk seem to be gathering.’”
She walked a few blocks down the street with her mom and sister and that’s when they encountered the larger herd. “We were met with a line of elk 10 yards in front of us. They were standing shoulder to shoulder across the entire street about 15 wide and 10 deep.
It was very intimidating so we immediately backed up around the corner and stood behind a parked car. A minute later, the elk all started walking towards us and gathered in the front yard as seen in the video.”
Gearhart is located on the Oregon coast, a mostly rural area, so elk sightings aren’t unheard of. But judging by the tone of wonder in the bystanders’ voices in the video, it was rare to see such a large herd congregate on a residential street.
Oregon has the fifth largest state elk population, with approximately 125,000 elk (Rocky Mountain at 65,000 and Roosevelt elk at 60,000). Elk are amazingly adaptable and can live almost anywhere—forests, deserts, mountains, and plains.
Elk play an important part in life cycle of the forest by clearing understory vegetation which makes way for other plant and animal species.
Their natural predators include the gray wolf (which are making a comeback in northeastern Oregon but have been extirpated in western Oregon) and mountain lions, which usually thin herds by taking old and weak elk. It is estimated that nearly 10 million elk lived in North America prior to 1500 and were reduced to less than 100,000 by 1907.
In fact the first name suggested for what is now Olympic National Park was Elk National Park, as it was intended to be a reserve for dwindling elk herds.
Currently habitat loss and fragmentation due to logging and road construction threaten these unique elk. Elk habitat is also being reduced by forest management practices that are keeping sunlight from reaching the forest floor and providing the vegetation they eat – such as clearcutting and replanting dense tree plantations.
Creative forest management practices are needed to provide breaks in the canopy while maintaining old growth stands that will allow for vegetation that is essential to elk and many other species.