THE NORTH AMERICAN ELK ( or WAPITI)
The elk is a hoofed animal. Elk are members of the deer family.
Elk are larger than deer but smaller than the moose.
The male is called a bull, the female is a cow and the young are calves.
- long thin legs
- adult bull elk is about 150 cm tall at the shoulder
- average male weighs 300 to 350 kg
- some adult bulls are as large as 500 kg
- cows are about 135 cm tall at the shoulder
- cows weigh about 250 kg
- coat is reddish brown in summer, grayish-brown in winter
- dark brown head and neck
- a dark shaggy mane (thee hairs from neck to chest)
- rump (or rear) is yellowish-white with a short tail
- males have large antlers
- new antlers grow each year
- antlers are shed (dropped) in late winter; begin growing in spring
- antlers have velvet covering in spring and summer
- velvet rubs off in late summer leaving light grey antlers
- live in
open country, forests and parklands, high country (mountains)
- found in British Columbia and the Yukon;
Alberta - foothills, national parks, forests;
Manitoba - Riding Mountain National Park;
Saskatchewan - in the forests north of Prince Albert;
in the southern
part of the province
(Moose Mountain, Duck Mountain, Cypress Hills areas)
- good swimmers
- run up to 50 km/hour
- hide in thick brush or trees
- wooded areas provide shelter during winter
- grow a thick coat for the winter
- plant eaters.
- winter - grasses and leaves under the snow, twigs
- spring and summer - new growth of plants, grasses,
leaves and tips of branches
- fall - dry grass, dry leaves, twigs
- live in groups of six or seven or up to 20 or more
- sounds made are grunts, barks (warning) and squeals
- bulls make a whistling sound called
"bugling" (72 KB WAV)
- fall is the rutting season when bulls fight head to head for the females
- strong bulls may have a large group of cows
- front hooves and antlers are used as weapons
- cows give birth to one calf in late spring (May or June)
- newborn calves drink mother's milk
- calves remain very quiet so enemies can't spot them
- coats are spotted
- calves are kept hidden for ten days or more after birth
- then calf and mother rejoin the herd
- humans hunt elk
- wolves, grizzly bears, cougars
- black bears and coyotes kill calves
- killed accidentally when crossing highways
OTHER INTERESTING FACTS
- Wapiti is a Shawnee Indian name meaning white rump
- life span - 14 years (males) and 24 years (females)
- Elk were plentiful when the settlers first arrived.
- Large numbers were hunted for their meat, hide and antlers.
- Elk Island National Park (Alberta) was set up in 1913
as a protected area for elk and bison.
- Elk are now raised on ranches.
- Oriental people use the antlers for medicine.
- Elk living in parks have become quite tame.
photo 1 |
photo 2 |
photo 3 |
elk at Banff
web page by J.Giannetta
2004 (updated 2011)
background from http://www.patswebgraphics.com
Hinterland Who's Who
PHOTOS : Copyrightę 2004 Ray I. Doan
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