Elk are a species of deer common in the United States and Canada. They are the second-largest species of deer in the world; the largest is the moose. Male elk are called bulls, and females are called cows. The bulls are usually larger than the cows. The average cow weighs 500 pounds, and the average bull weighs 650 pounds. On average, they stand 5 feet tall and are 8 feet long. Some of the Roosevelt Elk found in Alaska can weigh 1,300 pounds. Although these animals can get extremely large, they are herbivores. Their diet is mainly the grass, shrubs and leaves that grow naturally in their habitat. Elk are adaptable and can be found in all kinds of ecosystems like forests, grasslands, semi-deserts and tundra.
- A group of elk is called a gang.
- Only the bulls grow antlers, which they use to fight other males during mating season.
- The mating season is in the summer.
- A baby elk is called a calf.
- A calf can stand 20 minutes after it is born.
- Older bulls have larger antlers.
- The Native American name for elk is “Wapiti.”
- Elk originated in Eurasia, but migrated to North America during the Pleistocene ice age. They crossed over the Bering Land Bridge.
- There were six subspecies of elk in North America and five in Asia.
- There are four remaining subspecies of elk in North America; two went extinct.
Elk populations can be found in the northern areas in North America and Asia. Elk are relatively common in many parts of America now, but that was not always the case. Originally, there were large populations all across America, but in the 19th century, elk became extinct in many parts of the nation. In 1870 there were fewer than 10 elk in California. Farming and industries like gold digging destroyed much of the habitat that the elk needed to survive. Additionally, elk were commonly hunted for game and food. The elk population has improved due to national efforts to protect and reintroduce the elk into its old habitat.