“The Curious Case of the Rabbit Mountain Elk”

“From the bulging peak of Rabbit Mountain, at 6,000 feet on the edge of the foothills north of Boulder, Colorado, you can watch a transition unfold. To the east, a tabletop of pasture and farmland spreads out to the horizon. To the west, the Rocky Mountains rise impenetrably. Pale rock ripples north toward Wyoming, and in the south, a basin funnels rivers to Denver.

Positioned like an island in the plains just east of the Continental Divide, Rabbit is part ponderosa forest, part shrubby foothill, and part grassland. This convergence hosts a greater variety of flora and fauna than can be found almost anywhere else in the Front Range. There is human overlap as well. Tepee rings are preserved not far from rusted exploratory oil wells. Cornfields lie within sight of a limestone quarry. Museumified homesteads linger near recently unpacked mansions. Rural sensibilities abut urban sensitivities.

The trouble started in the early 2000s, when the elk showed up.”

Stephen Miller reports for Sierra magazine December 17, 2019.