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Cervus elaphus

Elk

Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Cervidae

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Credit: Wind Cave National Park
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Cervus elaphus - male, bugling, left; female, right
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Conservation Status: Least Concern.


There are more than 750,000 Elk today, many living on federally protected lands in the United States and Canada. They have prospered due to good conservation and management practices, and also perhaps because of the decline of large predators. Herds can include 200 or more animals. Males and females usually congregate in separate herds until the breeding season, in late September or early October. Then adult males use a variety of ostentatious behaviors to distinguish themselves and compete for access to reproducing females. They use their elaborate six-tined antlers, which may measure nearly 2 m in length along the main shaft, to clash with one another, they call loudly, and they spray urine. A calf weighing about 14 kg is born after a six-month gestation period. The future of Elk seems secure, so long as the interests of hunters, livestock managers, and tourists can be balanced.

Also known as:
Wapiti

Sexual Dimorphism:
Males are larger than females.

Length:
Average: 2.4 m males; 2.2 m females
Range: 2.1-2.6 m males; 2-2.5 m females

Weight:
Average: 331 kg males; 241 kg females
Range: 178-497 kg males; 171-292 kg females

References:

Linnaeus, C., 1758.  Systema Naturae per regna tria naturae, secundum classis, ordines, genera, species cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis, Tenth Edition, Laurentii Salvii, Stockholm, 1:67, 824 pp.

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Mammal Species of the World

Distribution of Cervus elaphus

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