Chillin’ like a villain




Alberta Newspaper Group


Lisa Wise took this photo of a bull elk lounging in the shade of an oak tree. Lisa says that the rest of the herd was grazing while this large bull rested. American Elk, also known as Rocky Mountain Elk (Cervus canadensis nelsonii) have slowly grown their numbers in the Tehachapi Mountains in recent decades. They were first brought here in about 1966 by the Ellsworth Ranch, a sprawling cattle and horse ranch that was later developed into Stallion Springs. The elk came from Yellowstone National Park, and 400 were shipped from Wyoming to Tehachapi, though some died in transit and others after arriving. They were placed in a 640-acre enclosed area with a very tall fence. The fence kept them in for a couple of years, but a giant old oak blew down on night and knocked an opening in the fence, allowing the elk to scatter. By this time the herd was down to 100-200 animals. They have since dispersed to Bear Valley, Brite Valley, Golden Hills, etc. While precise numbers are unknown, some people have estimated that as many as 500 of these large members of the deer family now roam the Tehachapi Mountains. The elk are beloved by most area residents, but they are so big that they can do considerable damage to farm crops and gardens when they go grazing and browsing on cultivated lands. The only real predators that elk have to control their numbers are mountain lions. Coyotes or black bears could occasionally get lucky and prey on an elk calf, but this is uncommon. The Nuwä (Kawaiisu or Southern Paiute) word for elk is parahui, pronounced pah-rah-HOO-ee, meaning “water deer.” NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., submit it to the Tehachapi News. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: