Where the Wild Things Are
“Near dawn or dusk is the best time to see the wildlife in the Elk & Bison Prairie,” says Curtis Fowler, a wildlife specialist at Kentucky’s Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. “The elk often stay within the wooded areas during the day — they browse for food there — and the female elk keep their young hidden until almost July.”
The best time to view elk with antlers is in the fall, close to mating season. Bison calves can be seen grazing the grasslands with the herd as early as May. The total population varies, Fowler says, but there are usually around 50 bison and 30 elk.
Because access to the 700-acre fenced prairie is controlled, you’ll need to stop at the Golden Pond Visitors Center when you arrive. Check out LBL’s Nature Station to see an award-winning video presentation, “Restoring the Land for Tomorrow,” and an Elk & Bison Prairie Exhibit that gives an overview of the history and restoration of the land.
The 3.5-mile driving loop through the prairie has informational markers and places to park to watch for wildlife.
“We continually remind our visitors that the animals are wild and can be extremely dangerous. These are BIG animals,” says Fowler. Bison and elk have been known to charge, so visitors are advised to stay in their vehicles, especially if large animals are nearby.
Timing is everything when trying to sight the elk or bison. If you don’t see any, you can look for the animals’ markers — tracks and wallows in the mud and rubs on trees and stumps.
And if you don’t spot elk and bison right away, there are plenty of other outdoor activities to keep you busy at LBL, including bird watching, mountain bike rentals, fishing, camping and, of course, simply enjoying the beauty of the rolling prairie grasslands
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