My hot sauce and dish detergent mix had diluted during the last round of wet weather. By the time the logging roads were dried off enough to get the Gator up the steep inclines where we had planted the cedar trees, the bamboo stakes had again become chomping sticks for the elk. Many of the stakes were waddled around their mouths so the tips were shredded, lots of them were pulled out of the ground and out of the plastic mesh that was protecting the seedlings. several were broken in half. The good news is that elk have had so much fun with the bamboo they have not been messing with the trees hardly at all. That good news will most likely not last because soon the tender spring grass and clover will dry up for the summer and they will be looking at the cedar trees more closely.
I have been catching lots of activity on our trail cam that I have set up. It appears that there is one pretty big, lone cow elk that is hanging around one of the last areas we planted. We document when she walks through to different areas of clover and tender grasses, she always comes back near this same spot. We believe she may have a newborn tucked away close by.
We have also seen the larger herd of about 35 adults now with several babies at their sides. This is the bunch that is intent on shredding every bamboo stake they can find as evidenced by the trail cam. This herd is getting braver as they hear the Gator powering up the logging roads knowing that eventually they will have to move out of the area when we come through, but will only be for a little while before they will go back to chomping.
At last count, there were six baby calves in with this herd. The babies still have their spots so are pretty young. When they call for their mothers they let out a scream that sounds much like a toddler. It is very disconcerting when one is close to the source of the noise.
We are replacing broken bamboo and mesh cages each time we go up into the planted areas which is usually once or twice a day. My evil mixture of hot sauce and dish detergent is being dabbed on the top of each bamboo much more liberally that the first doses in the hope that it discourages the chewing habit.