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Elk have been in the Clam Lake area since the early 1990s and their population is slowly increasing. In 2015, more than 20 were released in the Black River State Forest. These two areas afford the curious naturalist opportunities to view and hear elk during their courtship displays.
Elk can be seen in many habitats throughout their range. Best viewing times are dawn and dusk. The most popular viewing period is late September and October during the mating season when elk are often feeding in openings. Summer observations are possible, but heavy leaf cover makes viewing more difficult.
Until larger populations develop the best way to view and hear these large mammals bugle is to drive the local roads. It is a good idea to use a National Forest map, Black River State Forest map or county maps to find your way. Road conditions will vary with the season, so drivers should exercise caution before attempting to drive these routes.
People can disturb elk by approaching too closely. Elk should always be appreciated and viewed from a distance. This will enhance other viewers’ chances to see elk. While searching for elk, always respect the animals and private landowners’ rights and privacy. Whenever you choose to look for elk, plan to set aside some time. Remember these are wild animals. They are on their own schedule, coming and going when and where their needs and desires take them.