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Elk in America cover photo

Elk in America 2013


Distributed by Janson Media, 88 Semmons Road, Harrington Park, NJ 07640; 201-784-8488
Produced by Gary W. Griffen
Directed by Gary W. Griffen
DVD , color, 88 min.

Sr. High - General Adult
Animal Behavior

Date Entered: 04/24/2013

Reviewed by Cliff Glaviano, formerly with Bowling Green State University Libraries, Bowling Green, OH

Filmmaker Griffen tells the story of America’s third largest land mammal from its original migration to Alaska by way of the Bering Land Bridge 40,000 years ago to the four subspecies that remain today. Elk, or Wapiti, were hunted nearly to extinction in the 19th century by commercial hunters. The Rocky Mountain elk, most numerous of the surviving subspecies, has been successfully reintroduced to states and provinces of the historic elk range where sufficient habitat remains to allow continued survival.

Stacy Keach narrates the year’s cycle of the Rocky Mountain elk from the late September rut to the late summer preparation for another breeding year. Among the extraordinary scenes captured by Griffen are a rutting bull elk confronting an enormous American bison that wanders through the bull’s harem in the fall, and the solitary, secluded birth of an elk calf in late spring. Through the seasons, the needs for forage, social behaviors that help provide protection from predators, and fall and spring local migrations are explained and excellently filmed. Predators and other animals shown as part of the elk’s habitat are bears, wolves, bald eagles, and coyotes.

This video is recommended for those interested the natural history of the Rocky Mountain elk. Aspects of bull elk behavior during the rutting season, especially the scent marking of territory, make the video inappropriate for general viewing by audiences of junior high age and younger. Janson Media also makes available on DVD a similar nature video on the white-tailed deer, The Secret Life of Whitetails.