Female elks are a lot smarter than we assumed, the scientists believe. As they grow older, they learn how to recognise hunters weapons and their behaviour. The problem for male elks is that hunters usually shoot them before they reach five years for their antlers. Contrary, the females can easily reach a life span of ten years, when they become practically invulnerable from human hunters.
The animals are more likely to stick to steep terrain and forests if feeding near roadsides, which hunters use to spot their quarry.
ADAPTATION OF FEMALE ELKS
The researchers did not believe that the females reach this older age just because of selective hunting. They wanted to see if the animals also learned something from observing humans. The scientists found out, that they indeed do learn to adapt. For example, the animals are more likely to stick to steep terrain and forests if feeding near roadsides, which hunters use to spot their quarry.
But there was more the scientist found out. The animals were even able to recognise which weapon the hunters are carrying and act accordingly. During bow season, which requires hunters to get much closer to the animals in order to take a shot, the elk would stick to the more difficult ground. While during the season in which hunters tended to use rifles, the animals would avoid the roads and stay in more remote and inaccessible areas.
So as the technology advances and the weapons and hunters become more efficient, the animals are adapting as well. So I guess the message for the hunters is: “Let the games begin!”