Emblems of the West

Colorado Parks and Wildlife researchers have set out to evaluate how human recreation may be influencing Colorado's elk populations.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife researchers have set out to evaluate how human recreation may be influencing our elk populations and created a film titled ‘Emblems of the West’ to help tell that story. 

The film captures Colorado’s beautiful scenery, outdoor playground, wildlife resource, and research behind its convergence.

“Promoting outdoor recreation and conserving wildlife species can potentially be counter productive with one another,” CPW Wildlife Research Scientist Eric Bergman said, speaking of the balancing point behind two fundamental missions of the agency. “So the goal of this research is to generate information and hopefully develop tools that will help land managers minimize and mitigate the impacts of human recreation on wildlife. 

“Fortunately, the people of Colorado place a very high value on both our wildlife resources and our ability to recreate in a beautiful landscape. In line with that, we have had a lot of support and interest in this research, so we wanted to communicate our objectives and methods. But as scientists we often do a poor job of conveying technical issues to audiences not familiar with the language we use, which is why we partnered with Peak to Creek films. Sean distilled the technical aspects of our work into an informative and appealing video.”

Ender, owner of Peak to Creek films, said this was a rewarding project to work on because of the opportunity to capture such amazing and intimate moments with the biologists and the elk. 

“Hauling camera gear over 10 miles at 12,000 feet was no easy task, but when you kneel down on the tundra and start filming an elk calf that’s just a day old you’re very aware of how special it is to be telling this story,” Ender said. “On top of that it was extremely educational to talk with biologists and learn so much about elk and their ecosystems. It’s inspiring to work with folks who care so much about balancing sustainable elk populations with our outdoor way of life.”

Colorado’s robust elk population – estimated to be more than 292,000 – is a result of sound science-based management and conservation. One of the great aspects of our state is sharing the picturesque landscape with these magnificent animals. Researchers believe the passion people have for our natural resources can lead to sustainable elk populations for generations to come.

“Outdoor recreation is a way of life in Colorado, is vital to our social well-being and it contributes immensely to our economy as well,” said Nathaniel Rayl, Wildlife Researcher for CPW. “Ultimately, it is a great thing that we have more and more people interested in outdoor recreation and our natural resources because I think with that interest comes passion and stewardship and we are going to have more people that care about elk populations in the state of Colorado.”


The film was produced by Sean Ender of Peak to Creek films.

One Response

  1. With additional winter activities, especially fat tire bicycling, I have seen more interference with moose winter
    habitat in the Guanella and Kenosha Pass areas off of Hwy 285. I would appreciate receiving a response from CPW and/or the forest service whether any attention is being given to overuse in these areas.

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