JEFFERSON COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) — When a camera on Lookout Mountain captured a pregnant elk in labor Tuesday night, people across the country and around the world were captivated.
CBS4 first saw the cow laying on the hillside from a stationary camera which feeds back live images to the station in downtown Denver.
The cow, while she’s obviously unaware of the camera, gave the audience some up-close and person views of the process.
But after hours with little-to-no visible progress, many people became concerned.
When we contacted Colorado Parks and Wildlife Tuesday night, officials said it appeared the cow was struggling, but said they would not intervene or assist with the natural process.
Nearly 24 hours after the public first became aware of the elk, wildlife experts traveled to the mountain, waiting to tranquilize the elk, so they can get close to see how to help her.
Wednesday night they told CBS4’s Karen Morfitt they never were able to get a good eye to do so, and did not want to further stress the mother out, so they called it off for the night.
They say they will be back out on the mountain in the morning.
It’s not clear yet how the calf is doing, but officials plan on releasing that information.
The cow was visible in front of the camera again Wednesday morning and it appeared she was still no closer to birthing the calf. She later wandered out of view.
CPW asked members of the media and the general public to stay away from the area.
“Being in labor it’s already stressful. We don’t need to make it any more stressful,” Truitt said.
When asked why they were now considering intervening in the natural process, Truitt said they had watched the live video feed and become concerned.
“She’s been in labor longer than we’d normally see an elk in labor. We need to see what’s going on,” Truitt explained.
Truitt said it isn’t clear whether the calf is alive or dead. Once the vet arrives and assesses the situation, Truitt said she would provide another update.
CBS4 did some research and found cow elk tend to stay and travel in a loose herd, until a pregnant elk is ready to give birth. That’s when she will move away from that herd and find higher ground to have her calf.
Bull elk (the males) will not stay with this herd, and instead either live a “bachelor” life or live alone. Their antlers can be between four and nine feet tall.
Elk calves can typically weigh around 35 pounds at birth.