Elk in winter

Winter has arrived in Biebrza valley, writes Honeyguide's Poland guide, Artur Wiatr
The first freeze is a signal for elk to move from the marshes to higher and drier pine woods – their natural routine this time of year.
Elk at Biebrza National Park, Poland (Piotr Tałałaj).
Pine forest provides lot of food over winter time: the bark and needles of pine and other coniferous trees are a basic diet. Therefore, winter is the easiest time to watch this magnificent animal, sometimes eye to eye. Usually they form small groups consisting of an elk cow followed by a first and a second year calf. 

Elk at Biebrza (Piotr Tałałaj). More elk photos by Piotr on Facebook.
Sometimes there might be bigger groups – especially around those places where pine trees are cut down to give more food for elk and to stop them damaging agricultural crops in the neighbourhood.

Winter is also the time when bulls drop antlers – so one has to be careful when determining gender. Elk will stay in the forest for the whole winter and move back towards the marshes by the end of March and April. Biebrza Valley is the biggest refuge of elks in Poland. There are c. 600 elks living in Biebrza National Park and a few thousand in the whole country.


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