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Northern New Mexico Elk Holding Their Own in Snow

February 16, 2008.

From New Mexico Game & Fish:

It has been a tougher than normal winter for some elk in northern New Mexico, but herds appear to be healthy and finding enough food, Department of Game and Fish biologists report.

An aerial survey of northern New Mexico on February 7 found that elk herds were moving into lower elevations and into areas where they could find food, said Darrel Weybright, the Department's Big-Game Project Coordinator.  Most of the animals have moved out of areas of the extreme northern regions of the state where most of the heavy snowfall occurred over the past few weeks.

"Elk are strong, large animals with long legs, and can travel quite a ways to find the best groceries," Weybright said. "They'll make their way through heavy snow, over fences, wherever they have to go for food. We're not too worried about them starving, especially since we're well into February."

Thursday's aerial survey found large elk herds in valleys and sagebrush country along the Rio Grande and Rio Chama, and in areas of less snowfall 10 miles or more south of the Colorado border.

In Taos, at least two small herds of elk traveled out of the higher elevations into town in search of food. Department officers worked five hours Friday to herd two groups of elk -- each more than 40 head -- into less-populated areas south of town.

"Hopefully, they'll decide to stay there," Officer Greg Medina said.

Motorists in and around Taos are urged to watch for elk that may wander onto roadways, especially at night.

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