Photo: Don't mess around with a female elk

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Our photo of the day was taken by Sam McMillan at California's Arroyo del la Cruz Creek. Sam writes: "These 2 look like they could be dancing but they were close to fighting. The female was not happy with this young male bothering her!" Take that!

It's an interesting side note to research that finds female elk live much longer than their male counterparts. In fact, by age nine they are "practically bulletproof to hunters," as PopSci writes on a study tracking 49 females:

The cows [female elk] who lived the longest started out warier by nature. But they also became more cautious the older they got. They grew stealthier, moving shorter distances to decrease their chances of being heard or encountering a hunter. They also made use of dense forest as cover when nearing a road, and got better at avoiding roads in general.

Cows may even adopt different strategies for different types of weapons. They seem to spend more time in rugged terrain during bow season, which could make it difficult for a bow hunter to get within shooting range.

So, they stand up to unwanted attention and outsmart hunters – well played, lady elks.

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