This Single Grizzly Basically Sheep Dogs an Entire Elk Herd in Yellowstone

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: January 23, 2023
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Want to see a grizzly auditioning as a sheepdog? That’s what you get in this video and it’s a fascinating thing to see. Except, of course, this is no audition at all. The grizzly is lining up some dinner! At the start of the footage, we see the herd of elk running up an incline. They are aware that there is safety in numbers and they stick together as the bear comes into view. They even stop and face the bear at one point. We never get to see whether the grizzly is successful as the herd heads off into the forest and out of view.

Elks Grazing in Yellowstone

There are plenty of elk in Yellowstone and a lot of grizzlies too! The population of elk is between 10,000 and 20,000 who live in six to seven herds. The larger herds are usually made up of all females and can contain as many as 400 individuals. However, these herds can also contain males who are too young or too old to want to fight each other for dominance. The elk in the park are hunted by several predators including mountain lions and wolves. However, they are also part of the food chain for bald eagles and coyotes.

We can see these elk on grassland and next to a forest. Both are food sources for these herbivores.

Elk are large animals and an adult needs around 20 pounds of vegetation each day. This is predominantly grass which they graze but it can be tree bark and tree sprouts. Vegetation is not easy to break down in the digestive system. So, elks have a stomach with four chambers, and after spending the morning and the evening grazing, they find a sheltered place to rest whilst their bodies digest the meal.

Grizzlies on a Hunt

Grizzly bears do not need to eat a large amount of meat. They are a subspecies of the brown bear and they tend to live alone. Each bear needs a large area of habitat in which they roam to find food. Up to 90 percent of their diet can be plants. Typically, they enjoy berries and fruit. If they are near a river, they will catch fish. However, as we see here, they are also capable of hunting elk. An adult elk, who can run at up to 40 mph, could usually outrun a grizzly bear. However, old, ill, and young elk cannot run so fast and are easier for a bear to catch. We will never know if this one was successful!  

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The photo featured at the top of this post is © Kelp Grizzly Photography/

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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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