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Rocky Mountain Elk
Rocky Mountain Elk
Elk herd at Rocky Mountain National Park.


​In the early 1900s, only 40,000 elk remained in all of North America. The elk's dramatic demise was attributed to unregulated market hunting. The dedication of CPW staff and our conservation partners have brought this incredible species back through rigorous studies and relocation efforts and have managed to grow elk populations back to the thriving numbers Colorado enjoys today. Rocky Mountain elk are now one of the greatest conservation success stories in Colorado. 

Why Are Elk Important?

At over 280,000 animals, Colorado’s elk population is the largest in the world. Through hunting and wildlife viewing elk bring visitors from all over the world. ​ In the fall people come from every corner to see these magnificent animals and to hear their distinctive bugle. They also lure hunters deep into the woods in a time honored tradition and critical management tool. Hunting is the most effective method to provide for herd health and critical funding to support conservation and research that benefits all of Colorado's wild spaces. This species not only provides intrinsic values for Coloradans they also a extremely important to local and state economies.

What Are The Associated Challenges?​

​​​Residential and Commercial DevelopementEnergy Development and Land Use​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​


What Is CPW Doing?

Bull and cow elk.​In 1916, Colorado imported 50 elk from Wyoming to re-establish dwindling herds. The elk were transported and released in Idaho Springs and the Greenhorn Mountains in Pueblo County. From these limited transplants, and through decades of trapping and relocation efforts by wildlife managers, elk populations have soared to the abundant herds for which Colorado is now famous. 

CPW, in cooperation with partner groups, continues to conduct research, protect key winter range and migration corridors and improve statewide habitat to ensure Colorado's elk herds remain abundant for future generations. ​


​How Can You Help?

Find more ideas of how you can make a difference. Every action, no matter how small, can make a positive impact. See Your Help​.