Elk Behavior: Elk country typically includes a vast area, from very high elevations to the lowlands. When snow piles deep in the upper reaches, animals have no choice but to migrate down, since their food sources are covered with snow. Elk begin gathering together in large herds, remaining in those groups throughout the winter. When they migrate, they tend to use the same routes year after year. In some areas, elk may remain on fairly high windswept ridges where the wind constantly blows the snow away, baring enough forage for the animals to sustain themselves. Where snow is deep in feeding areas, elk may be exposed far longer than usual in the open. It takes longer to paw away snow and find sufficient forage, especially in cold temperatures when elk need plenty of extra calories. Snow and wind have little effect on elk, unless it's a driving blizzard with gale-force winds. These are tough animals, capable of surviving severe weather, although extended and bitterly cold winters may cause some mortality.