Cervus elaphus subspecies
The elk, or wapiti (
Cervus canadensis), is one of the largest species
within the deer family, Cervidae, in the world, and one of the largest
land mammals in
North America and Eastern Asia. This animal should not
be confused with the still larger moose (Alces alces) to which the
name "elk" applies in
British English and in reference to populations
Elk range in forest and forest-edge habitat, feeding on grasses,
plants, leaves, and bark. Male elk have large antlers which are shed
each year. Males also engage in ritualized mating behaviors during the
rut, including posturing, antler wrestling (sparring), and bugling, a
loud series of vocalizations that establishes dominance over other
males and attracts females.
Although they are native to
North America and eastern Asia, they have
adapted well to countries in which they have been introduced,
Argentina and New Zealand. Their great adaptability may
threaten endemic species and ecosystems into which they have been
Elk are susceptible to a number of infectious diseases, some of which
can be transmitted to livestock. Efforts to eliminate infectious
diseases from elk populations, largely by vaccination, have had mixed
Some cultures revere the elk as a spiritual force. In parts of Asia,
antlers and their velvet are used in traditional medicines.
hunted as a game species. The meat is leaner and higher in protein
than beef or chicken.
It was long believed to be a subspecies of the European red deer
Cervus elaphus), but evidence from a number of mitochondrial DNA
genetic studies beginning in 1998 show that the two are distinct
species. Key morphological differences that distinguish C.
canadensis from C. elaphus are the former's wider rump patch and
1 Naming and etymology
4.1 Reproduction and lifecycle
4.2 Predators and defensive tactics
4.5 Parasites and disease
6 Cultural references
7 Commercial uses
8 See also
10 External links
Naming and etymology
Early European explorers in North America, who were familiar with the
smaller red deer of Europe, thought that the larger North American
animal resembled a moose, and consequently gave it the name elk, which
is the common European name for moose. The word elk is related to the
Old Norse elgr, Scandinavian elg/älg and German Elch,
all of which refer to the animal known in
North America as the
The name wapiti is from the Shawnee and
Cree word waapiti, meaning
"white rump". This name is used in particular for the Asian
subspecies (Altai wapiti,
Tian Shan wapiti,
Manchurian wapiti and
Alashan wapiti), because in
Eurasia the name elk continues to be used
for the moose.
Wapiti is also the preferred name for the species in New Zealand.
Asian subspecies are sometimes referred to as the maral, but this name
applies primarily to the
Caspian red deer
Caspian red deer (
Cervus elaphus maral), a
subspecies of red deer. There is a subspecies of elk in Mongolia
Altai wapiti (
Cervus canadensis sibiricus), also known
as the Altai maral.
Elk crossing a rock face
Members of the genus
Cervus (and hence early relatives or possible
ancestors of the elk) first appear in the fossil record 25 million
years ago, during the
Oligocene in Eurasia, but do not appear in the
North American fossil record until the early Miocene. The extinct
Irish elk (Megaloceros) was not a member of the genus Cervus, but
rather the largest member of the wider deer family (Cervidae) known
from the fossil record.
Until recently, red deer and elk were considered to be one species,
Cervus elaphus. However, mitochondrial
DNA studies, conducted
on hundreds of samples in 2004 from red deer and elk subspecies as
well as other species of the
Cervus deer family, strongly indicate
that elk, or wapiti, should be a distinct species, namely Cervus
canadensis. The previous classification had over a dozen subspecies
under the C. elaphus species designation;
DNA evidence concludes that
elk are more closely related to
Thorold's deer and even sika deer than
they are to the red deer.
Elk and red deer produce fertile
offspring in captivity, and the two species have freely inter-bred in
New Zealand's Fiordland National Park, where the cross-bred animals
have all but removed the pure elk blood from the area.
There are numerous subspecies of elk described, with six from North
America and four from Asia, although some taxonomists consider them
different ecotypes or races of the same species (adapted to local
environments through minor changes in appearance and behavior).
Populations vary as to antler shape and size, body size, coloration
and mating behavior.
DNA investigations of the Eurasian subspecies
revealed that phenotypic variation in antlers, mane and rump patch
development are based on "climatic-related lifestyle factors". Of
the six subspecies of elk known to have inhabited
North America in
historical times, four remain, including the Roosevelt (C. canadensis
roosevelti), tule (C. canadensis nannodes), Manitoban (C. canadensis
manitobensis) and Rocky
Mountain (C. canadensis nelsoni). The
eastern elk (C. canadensis canadensis) and
Merriam's elk (C.
canadensis merriami) subspecies have been extinct for at least a
Four subspecies described in Asia include the
Altai wapiti (C.
canadensis sibiricus) and the
Tianshan wapiti (C. canadensis
songaricus). Two distinct subspecies found in
Korea are the
Manchurian wapiti (C. canadensis xanthopygus) and the Alashan wapitis
(C. canadensis alashanicus). The
Manchurian wapiti is darker and more
reddish in coloration than the other populations. The Alashan wapiti
of north central
China is the smallest of all subspecies, has the
lightest coloration and is the least studied. Biologist Valerius
Geist, who has written on the world's various deer species, holds that
there are only three subspecies of elk. Geist recognizes the
Alashan wapiti but places all other elk into C.
canadensis canadensis, claiming that classification of the four
surviving North American groups as subspecies is driven, at least
partly, for political purposes to secure individualized conservation
and protective measures for each of the surviving populations.
DNA studies suggest that there are no more than three or four
subspecies of elk. All American forms aside from possibly the tule and
Roosevelt elk seem to belong to one subspecies (
canadensis). Even the Siberian elk (
Cervus canadensis sibiricus) are
more or less identical to the American forms and therefore may belong
to this subspecies, too. However the
Manchurian wapiti (Cervus
canadensis xanthopygus) is clearly distinct from the Siberian forms,
but not distinguishable from the Alashan wapiti. The Chinese forms
MacNeill's deer, Kansu red deer, and
Tibetan red deer
Tibetan red deer belong also to
the wapitis and were not distinguishable from each other by
DNA studies. These Chinese subspecies are sometimes
treated as a distinct species, namely the Central Asian red deer
Cervus wallichi), which also includes the Kashmir stag.
Northern and American group
Roosevelt elk (C. c. roosevelti)
Tule elk (C. c. nannodes)
Manitoban elk (C. c. manitobensis)
Rocky Mountain elk
Rocky Mountain elk (C. c. nelsoni)
Eastern elk (C. c. canadensis; extinct)
Merriam's elk (C. c. merriami; extinct)
Altai wapiti (C. c. sibiricus)
Tian Shan wapiti (C. c. songaricus)
Manchurian wapiti (C. c. xanthopygus)
Alashan wapiti (C. c. alashanicus)
Southern group (Central Asian red deer)
MacNeill's deer (C. c. macneilli)
Kansu red deer (C. c. kansuensis)
Tibetan red deer
Tibetan red deer (C. c. wallichii)
Kashmir stag (C. c. hanglu)
Illustration of eastern elk
Illustration of Altai wapiti
Illustration of Manchurian wapiti
Illustration of Kashmir stag
A herd of Roosevelt elk
The elk is a large animal of the ungulate order Artiodactyla,
possessing an even number of toes on each foot, similar to those of
camels, goats and cattle. It is a ruminant species, with a
four-chambered stomach, and feeds on grasses, plants, leaves and bark.
During the summer, elk eat almost constantly, consuming between 4 and
7 kilograms (8.8 and 15.4 lb) of vegetation daily. In North
America, males are called bulls, and females are called cows. In Asia,
stag and hind, respectively, are sometimes used instead.
Elk are more than twice as heavy as mule deer and have a more reddish
hue to their hair coloring, as well as large, buff-colored rump
patches and smaller tails.
Moose are larger and darker than elk; bulls
have distinctively different antlers.
Elk gather in herds, while moose
Elk cows average 225 to 241 kg (496 to
531 lb), stand 1.3 m (4.3 ft) at the shoulder, and are
2.1 m (6.9 ft) from nose to tail. Bulls are some 40% larger
than cows at maturity, weighing an average of 320 to 331 kg (705
to 730 lb), standing 1.5 m (4.9 ft) at the shoulder and
averaging 2.45 m (8.0 ft) in length. The largest of
the subspecies is the
Roosevelt elk (C. c. roosevelti), found west of
Cascade Range in the
U.S. states of California,
Washington, and in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
Roosevelt elk have been reintroduced into Alaska, where the largest
males are estimated to weigh up to 600 kg (1,300 lb).
More typically, male Roosevelt elks weigh around 300 to 544 kg
(661 to 1,199 lb), while females weigh 260 to 285 kg (573 to
628 lb). The smallest-bodied race is the tule elk (C. c.
nannodes), which weighs from 170 to 250 kg (370 to 550 lb)
in both sexes.
Only the males have antlers, which start growing in the spring and are
shed each winter. The largest antlers may be 1.2 metres (3.9 ft)
long and weigh 18 kilograms (40 lb). Antlers are made of bone
which can grow at a rate of 2.5 centimetres (0.98 in) per day.
While actively growing, the antlers are covered with and protected by
a soft layer of highly vascularised skin known as velvet. The velvet
is shed in the summer when the antlers have fully developed. Bull elk
may have eight or more tines on each antler; however, the number of
tines has little to do with the age or maturity of a particular
animal. The Siberian and North American elk carry the largest antlers
Altai wapiti have the smallest. The formation and
retention of antlers is testosterone-driven. After the breeding
season in late fall, the level of pheromones released during estrus
declines in the environment and the testosterone levels of males drop
as a consequence. This drop in testosterone leads to the shedding of
antlers, usually in the early winter.
During the fall, elk grow a thicker coat of hair, which helps to
insulate them during the winter. Males, females and calves of Siberian
and North American elk all grow thin neck manes; female and young
Manchurian and Alaskan wapitis do not. By early summer, the heavy
winter coat has been shed, and elk are known to rub against trees and
other objects to help remove hair from their bodies. All elk have
small and clearly defined rump patches with short tails. They have
different coloration based on the seasons and types of habitats, with
gray or lighter coloration prevalent in the winter and a more reddish,
darker coat in the summer.
Subspecies living in arid climates tend to
have lighter colored coats than do those living in forests. Most
have lighter yellow-brown to orange-brown coats in contrast to dark
brown hair on the head, neck, and legs during the summer.
Forest-adapted Manchurian and Alaskan wapitis have darker
reddish-brown coats with less contrast between the body coat and the
rest of the body during the summer months. Calves are born
spotted, as is common with many deer species, and they lose their
spots by the end of summer. Adult
Manchurian wapiti may retain a few
orange spots on the back of their summer coats until they are older.
This characteristic has also been observed in the forest-adapted
European red deer.
An American elk bugling
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A bison charges an elk near
Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park.
Adult elk usually stay in single-sex groups for most of the year.
During the mating period known as the rut, mature bulls compete for
the attentions of the cow elk and will try to defend females in their
harem. Rival bulls challenge opponents by bellowing and by paralleling
each other, walking back and forth. This allows potential combatants
to assess the other's antlers, body size and fighting prowess. If
neither bull backs down, they engage in antler wrestling, and bulls
sometimes sustain serious injuries. Bulls also dig holes in the ground
called wallows, in which they urinate and roll their body. A male
elk's urethra points upward so that urine is sprayed almost at a right
angle to the penis. The urine soaks into their hair and gives them
a distinct smell which attracts cows.
Dominant bulls follow groups of cows during the rut, from August into
early winter. A bull will defend his harem of 20 cows or more from
competing bulls and predators. Only mature bulls have large harems
and breeding success peaks at about eight years of age. Bulls between
two and four years and over 11 years of age rarely have harems, and
spend most of the rut on the periphery of larger harems. Young and old
bulls that do acquire a harem hold it later in the breeding season
than do bulls in their prime. A bull with a harem rarely feeds and he
may lose up to 20 percent of his body weight. Bulls that enter the rut
in poor condition are less likely to make it through to the peak
conception period or have the strength to survive the rigors of the
Bulls have a loud vocalization consisting of screams known as bugling,
which can be heard for miles. Bugling is often associated with an
adaptation to open environments such as parklands, meadows, and
savannas, where sound can travel great distances. Females are
attracted to the males that bugle more often and have the loudest
call. Bugling is most common early and late in the day and is one
of the most distinctive sounds in nature, akin to the howl of the gray
Reproduction and lifecycle
Rut (mammalian reproduction)
Rut (mammalian reproduction) § Elk
Female nursing young
Female elk have a short estrus cycle of only a day or two, and matings
usually involve a dozen or more attempts. By the autumn of their
second year, females can produce one and, very rarely, two offspring,
although reproduction is most common when cows weigh at least 200
kilograms (440 lb). The gestation period is 240 to 262 days
and the offspring weigh between 15 and 16 kilograms (33 and
35 lb). When the females are near to giving birth, they tend to
isolate themselves from the main herd, and will remain isolated until
the calf is large enough to escape predators. Calves are born
spotted, as is common with many deer species, and they lose their
spots by the end of summer.
Manchurian wapiti may retain a few orange
spots on the back of their summer coats until they are older. After
two weeks, calves are able to join the herd, and are fully weaned at
two months of age.
Elk calves are as large as an adult
white-tailed deer by the time they are six months old. The
offspring will remain with their mothers for almost a year, leaving
about the time that the next season's offspring are produced. The
gestation period is the same for all subspecies.
Elk live 20 years or more in captivity but average 10 to 13 years in
the wild. In some subspecies that suffer less predation, they may live
an average of 15 years in the wild.
Predators and defensive tactics
Single bull elk are vulnerable to predation by wolves
In North America, wolf and coyote packs and the solitary cougar are
the most likely predators, although brown and black bears also prey on
Coyote packs mostly prey on elk calves, though they can
sometimes take a winter- or disease-weakened adult. In the Greater
Yellowstone Ecosystem which includes Yellowstone National Park, bears
are the most significant predators of calves. Major predators in
Asia include the wolf, dhole, brown bear, Siberian tiger, Amur
leopard, and snow leopard.
Eurasian lynx and wild boar sometimes prey
on Asian elk calves. Historically, tigers in the Lake Baikal
region fed on Manchurian wapiti, and continue to do so in the Amur
Male elk retain their antlers for more than half the year and are less
likely to group with other males when they have antlers. Antlers
provide a means of defense, as does a strong front-leg kick, which is
performed by either sex if provoked. Once the antlers have been shed,
bulls tend to form bachelor groups which allow them to work
cooperatively at fending off predators. Herds tend to employ one or
more scouts while the remaining members eat and rest.
After the rut, females form large herds of up to 50 individuals.
Newborn calves are kept close by a series of vocalizations; larger
nurseries have an ongoing and constant chatter during the daytime
hours. When approached by predators, the largest and most robust
females may make a stand, using their front legs to kick at their
attackers. Guttural grunts and posturing effectively deter all but the
most determined predators.
New Zealand have no natural predators.
Elk wintering in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, after migrating there during
As is true for many species of deer, especially those in mountainous
regions, elk migrate into areas of higher altitude in the spring,
following the retreating snows, and the opposite direction in the
fall. Hunting pressure also impacts migration and movements.
During the winter, they favor wooded areas and sheltered valleys for
protection from the wind and availability of tree bark to eat.
Roosevelt elk are generally non-migratory due to less seasonal
variability of food sources.
Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem elk herd numbers over 200,000
individuals and during the spring and fall, they take part in the
longest elk migration in the continental U.S.
Elk in the southern
Yellowstone National Park
Yellowstone National Park and in the surrounding National
Forests migrate south towards the town of Jackson, Wyoming, where they
winter for up to six months on the National
Conservationists there ensure the herd is well fed during the harsh
winters. Many of the elk that reside in the northern sections of
Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem migrate to lower altitudes in
Montana, mainly to the north and west.
Elk pellet group
Elk are ruminants and therefore have four-chambered stomachs. Unlike
white-tailed deer and moose which are primarily browsers, elk have a
similarity to cattle as they are primarily grazers, but like other
deer, they also browse.
Elk have a tendency to do most of
their feeding in the mornings and evenings, seeking sheltered areas in
between feedings to digest. Their diets vary somewhat depending on the
season, with native grasses being a year-round supplement, tree bark
being consumed in winter and forbs and tree sprouts during the summer.
Elk consume an average of 9.1 kilograms (20 lb) of various
vegetation daily. Particularly fond of aspen sprouts which rise in
the spring, elk have had some impact on aspen groves which have been
declining in some regions where elk exist.
Range and wildlife managers conduct surveys of elk pellet groups to
monitor populations and resource use.
Parasites and disease
At least 53 species of protist and animal parasites have been
identified in elk. Most of these parasites seldom lead to
significant mortality among wild or captive elk. Parelaphostrongylus
tenuis (brainworm or meningeal worm) is a parasitic nematode known to
affect the spinal cord and brain tissue of elk and other species,
leading to death. The definitive host is the white-tailed deer, in
which it normally has no ill effects. Snails and slugs, the
intermediate hosts, can be inadvertently consumed by elk during
grazing. The liver fluke
Fascioloides magna and the nematode
Dictyocaulus viviparus are also commonly found parasites that can be
fatal to elk. Since infection by either of these parasites can be
lethal to some commercial livestock species, their presence in elk
herds is of some concern.
A bull elk in spring, shedding its winter coat and with its antlers
covered in velvet
Chronic wasting disease, transmitted by a misfolded protein known as a
prion, affects the brain tissue in elk, and has been detected
throughout their range in North America. First documented in the late
1960s in mule deer, the disease has affected elk on game farms and in
the wild in a number of regions.
Elk that have contracted the disease
begin to show weight loss, increased watering needs, disorientation
and listlessness, and at an advanced stage the disease leads to death.
The disease is similar to but not the same as mad cow disease, and no
risks to humans have been documented, nor has the disease been
demonstrated to pose a threat to domesticated cattle. In 2002,
Korea banned the importation of elk antler velvet due to
concerns about chronic wasting disease.
The Gram-negative bacterial disease brucellosis occasionally affects
elk in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the only place in the U.S.
where the disease is still known to exist. In domesticated cattle,
brucellosis causes infertility, abortions and reduced milk production.
It is transmitted to humans as undulant fever, producing flu-like
symptoms which may last for years. Though bison are more likely to
transmit the disease to other animals, elk inadvertently transmitted
brucellosis to horses in Wyoming and cattle in Idaho. Researchers are
attempting to eradicate the disease through vaccinations and herd
management measures, which are expected to be successful.
Nevetheless, research has been ongoing since 2002, and a successful
vaccine has yet to be developed as of 2016.
A recent necropsy study of captive elk in
Pennsylvania attributed the
cause of death in 33 of 65 cases to either gastrointestinal parasites
(21 cases, primarily
Eimeria sp. and Ostertagia sp.) or bacterial
infections (12 cases, mostly pneumonia).
Elk hoof disease was first noticed in the state of Washington in the
late 1990s in the
Cowlitz River basin, with sporadic reports of
deformed hooves. Since then the disease has spread rapidly with
increased sightings throughout South West Washington and into Oregon.
The disease is characterised by deformed, broken or missing hooves and
leads to severe lameness in elk. The primary cause is not known but it
is associated with Treponeme bacteria which are known to cause digital
dermatitis in commercial livestock. The mode of transmission is also
not known but it appears to be highly contagious amongst elk. Studies
are being undertaken by government department to determine how to halt
or eliminate the disease.
Bull elk bugling during the rut
Modern subspecies are descended from elk that once inhabited Beringia,
a steppe region between Asia and
North America that connected the two
continents during the Pleistocene.
Beringia provided a migratory route
for numerous mammal species, including brown bear, camel, horse,
caribou, and moose, as well as humans. As the
Pleistocene came to
an end, ocean levels began to rise; elk migrated southwards into Asia
and North America. In
North America they adapted to almost all
ecosystems except for tundra, true deserts, and the gulf coast of the
U.S. The elk of southern
Siberia and central Asia were once more
widespread but today are restricted to the mountain ranges west of
Lake Baikal including the Sayan and
Altai Mountains of
the Tianshan region that borders Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and China's
Xinjiang Province. The habitat of Siberian elk in Asia is similar
to that of the Rocky
Mountain subspecies in North America.
Throughout their range, they live in forest and in forest edge
habitat, similar to other deer species. In mountainous regions, they
often dwell at higher elevations in summer, migrating down slope for
winter. The highly adaptable elk also inhabit semi-deserts in North
America, such as the Great Basin. Manchurian and
Alashan wapiti are
primarily forest dwellers and their smaller antler size is a likely
adaptation to a forest environment.
Bull elk at Big Spring Creek in Great Sand Dunes National Park
Bull elk on a captive range in Nebraska. These elk, originally from
Mountain herds, exhibit modified behavior due to having been
held in captivity, under less selective pressure
Rocky Mountain elk
Rocky Mountain elk subspecies has been reintroduced by
hunter-conservation organizations in the Appalachian region of the
eastern U.S., where the now extinct eastern elk once lived After
elk were reintroduced in the states of Kentucky,
North Carolina and
Tennessee, they migrated into the neighboring states of
West Virginia, and have established permanent populations there.
In 2017, a male elk, likely from the Smoky Mountains population, was
South Carolina for the first time in nearly 300 years.
Elk have also been reintroduced to a number of other states, including
Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin,
Missouri  and Etolin
Afognak Islands in Alaska. Reintroduction of the elk into
Ontario began in the early 20th century, and is still ongoing due to
the limited success. As of 1989, population figures for the Rocky
Mountain subspecies were 782,500, and estimated numbers for all North
American subspecies exceeded 1 million. Prior to the European
colonization of North America, there were an estimated 10 million elk
on the continent.
Outside their native habitat, elk and other deer species, especially
white tails, were introduced in areas that previously had few if any
large native ungulates. Brought to these countries for hunting and
ranching for meat, hides and antler velvet, they have proven highly
adaptable and have often had an adverse impact on local ecosystems.
Elk and red deer were introduced to
Argentina in the early 20th
century. There they are now considered an invasive species,
encroaching on Argentinian ecosystems where they compete for food with
the indigenous Chilean huemul and other herbivores. This negative
impact on native animal species has led the
IUCN to identify the elk
as one of the world's 100 worst invaders.
The introduction of deer to
New Zealand began in the middle of the
19th century, and current populations are primarily European red deer,
with only 15 percent being elk. There is significant hybridization
of elk with the more numerous red deer to the extent that pure elk may
no longer exist in the wild in New Zealand. These deer have had an
adverse impact on forest regeneration of some plant species, as they
consume more palatable species which are replaced with those that are
less favored by the elk. The long-term impact will be an alteration of
the types of plants and trees found, and in other animal and plant
species dependent upon them. As in Chile and Argentina, the IUCN
has declared that red deer and elk populations in
New Zealand are an
Kiowa couple. The woman on the right is wearing an elk tooth dress.
Elk have played an important role in the cultural history of a number
of peoples. Pictograms and petroglyphs of elk were carved into cliffs
thousands of years ago by the Anasazi of the southwestern U.S. More
recent Native American tribes, including the Kootenai, Cree,
Ojibwa and Pawnee, produced blankets and robes from elk
hides. The elk was of particular importance to the Lakota, and played
a spiritual role in their society. At birth, Lakota males were
given an elk's tooth to promote a long life since that was seen as the
last part of dead elk to rot away. The elk was seen as having strong
sexual potency and young Lakota males who had dreamed of elk would
have an image of the mythical representation of the elk on their
"courting coats" as a sign of sexual prowess. The Lakota believed that
the mythical or spiritual elk, not the physical one, was the teacher
of men and the embodiment of strength, sexual prowess and courage.
Neolithic petroglyphs from Asia depict antler-less female elk, which
have been interpreted as symbolizing rebirth and sustenance. By the
beginning of the Bronze Age, the elk is depicted less frequently in
rock art, coinciding with a cultural transformation away from
Rocky Mountain elk
Rocky Mountain elk is the official state animal for Utah. An
image of an elk and a moose appear on the state seal and flag of
Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks
Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (B.P.O.E.)
chose the elk as its namesake because a number of its attributes
seemed appropriate for cultivation by members of the fraternity. A
representation of the majestic head of the male, with its spreading
antlers, was adopted as the first badge of the Order; and is still the
most conspicuous element of its copyrighted fraternal emblem. A
prized possession of many members of the B.P.O.E. are jewel encrusted,
gold mounted elk teeth – which are actually ivory.
Approximately 0.45 kg (1 lb) of ground elk meat formed into
patties; they have relatively low fat content
Although breakdown figures for each game species are not available in
the 2006 National Survey from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,
hunting of wild elk is most likely the primary economic impact.
Elk are held in captivity, or farmed, for hunting, meat production and
velvet collection. In what is known as a canned hunt, a hunter pays a
fee for an essentially guaranteed chance to shoot an elk in an
escape-proof range. While elk are not generally harvested for meat
production on a large scale, some restaurants offer the meat as a
specialty item and it is also available in some grocery stores. The
meat has a taste somewhere between beef and venison and is higher in
protein and lower in fat and cholesterol than beef, pork, and
Elk meat is also a good source of iron, phosphorus and
A male elk can produce 10 to 11 kilograms (22 to 24 lb) of antler
velvet annually and on ranches in the United States,
Canada and New
Zealand, this velvet is collected and sold to markets in East Asia,
where it is used in medicine. Velvet is also considered by some
cultures to be an aphrodisiac. However, consuming velvet from elk
North America may be risky since velvet from animals infected with
chronic wasting disease may contain prions that could result in a
human getting variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease.
Antlers are also used in artwork, furniture and other novelty items.
All Asian subspecies, along with other deer, have been raised for
their antlers in central and eastern Asia by Han Chinese, Turkic
peoples, Tungusic peoples, Mongolians, and Koreans.
Elk farms are
relatively common in
North America and New Zealand.
Elk hides have been used for thousands of years for tepee covering,
blankets, clothing and footwear. Modern uses are more decorative, but
elk skin shoes, gloves and belts are not uncommon.
Since 1967, the
Boy Scouts of America
Boy Scouts of America have assisted employees at the
National Elk Refuge in Wyoming by collecting the antlers which are
shed each winter. The antlers are then auctioned with 80% of the
proceeds returned to the refuge. In 2010, 2,520 kilograms
(5,560 lb) of antlers were auctioned, bringing in over
Tian Shan wapiti
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Wikispecies has information related to
Wikimedia Commons has media related to
Elk Arizona Game and Fish Department
Elk – Greater Yellowstone Resource Guide
Smithsonian Institution - North American Mammals:
Pronghorn (A. americana)
Okapi (O. johnstoni)
Northern giraffe (G. camelopardalis)
Southern giraffe (G. giraffa)
Reticulated giraffe (G. reticulata)
Masai giraffe (G. tippelskirchi)
Anhui musk deer
Anhui musk deer (M. anhuiensis)
Dwarf musk deer
Dwarf musk deer (M. berezovskii)
Alpine musk deer
Alpine musk deer (M. chrysogaster)
Kashmir musk deer
Kashmir musk deer (M. cupreus)
Black musk deer
Black musk deer (M. fuscus)
Himalayan musk deer (M. leucogaster)
Siberian musk deer
Siberian musk deer (M. moschiferus)
Water chevrotain (H. aquaticus)
Indian spotted chevrotain
Indian spotted chevrotain (M. indica)
Yellow-striped chevrotain (M. kathygre)
Sri Lankan spotted chevrotain
Sri Lankan spotted chevrotain (M. meminna)
Java mouse-deer (T. javanicus)
Lesser mouse-deer (T. kanchil)
Greater mouse-deer (T. napu)
Philippine mouse-deer (T. nigricans)
Vietnam mouse-deer (T. versicolor)
Williamson's mouse-deer (T. williamsoni)
Large family listed below
Large family listed below
Indian muntjac (M. muntjak)
Reeves's muntjac (M. reevesi)
Hairy-fronted muntjac (M. crinifrons)
Fea's muntjac (M. feae)
Bornean yellow muntjac
Bornean yellow muntjac (M. atherodes)
Roosevelt's muntjac (M. rooseveltorum)
Gongshan muntjac (M. gongshanensis)
Giant muntjac (M. vuquangensis)
Truong Son muntjac
Truong Son muntjac (M. truongsonensis)
Leaf muntjac (M. putaoensis)
Sumatran muntjac (M. montanus)
Pu Hoat muntjac
Pu Hoat muntjac (M. puhoatensis)
Tufted deer (E. cephalophus)
Fallow deer (D. dama)
Persian fallow deer
Persian fallow deer (D. mesopotamica)
Chital (A. axis)
Barasingha (R. duvaucelii)
Eld's deer (P. eldii)
Père David's deer
Père David's deer (E. davidianus)
Hog deer (H. porcinus)
Calamian deer (H. calamianensis)
Bawean deer (H. kuhlii)
Sambar deer (R. unicolor)
Rusa deer (R. timorensis)
Philippine sambar (R. mariannus)
Philippine spotted deer (R. alfredi)
Red deer (C. elaphus)
Elk (C. canadensis)
Thorold's deer (C. albirostris)
Sika deer (C. nippon)
Moose (A. alces)
Water deer (H. inermis)
Roe deer (C. capreolus)
Siberian roe deer
Siberian roe deer (C. pygargus)
Reindeer (R. tarandus)
Taruca (H. antisensis)
South Andean deer
South Andean deer (H. bisulcus)
Red brocket (M. americana)
Small red brocket
Small red brocket (M. bororo)
Merida brocket (M. bricenii)
Dwarf brocket (M. chunyi)
Gray brocket (M. gouazoubira)
Pygmy brocket (M. nana)
Amazonian brown brocket
Amazonian brown brocket (M. nemorivaga)
Yucatan brown brocket
Yucatan brown brocket (M. pandora)
Little red brocket
Little red brocket (M. rufina)
Central American red brocket
Central American red brocket (M. temama)
Pampas deer (O. bezoarticus)
Marsh deer (B. dichotomus)
Northern pudú (P. mephistophiles)
Southern pudú (P. pudu)
White-tailed deer (O. virginianus)
Mule deer (O. hemionus)
Abbott's duiker (C. spadix)
Aders's duiker (C. adersi)
Bay duiker (C. dorsalis)
Black duiker (C. niger)
Black-fronted duiker (C. nigrifrons)
Brooke's duiker (C. brookei)
Harvey's duiker (C. harveyi)
Jentink's duiker (C. jentinki)
Ogilby's duiker (C. ogilbyi)
Peters's duiker (C. callipygus)
Red-flanked duiker (C. rufilatus)
Red forest duiker
Red forest duiker (C. natalensis)
Ruwenzori duiker (C. rubidis)
Weyns's duiker (C. weynsi)
White-bellied duiker (C. leucogaster)
White-legged duiker (C. crusalbum)
Yellow-backed duiker (C. Sylvicultor)
Zebra duiker (C. zebra)
Blue duiker (P. monticola)
Maxwell's duiker (P. maxwellii)
Walter's duiker (P. walteri)
Common duiker (S. grimmia)
Roan antelope (H. equinus)
Sable antelope (H. niger)
East African oryx
East African oryx (O. beisa)
Scimitar oryx (O. dammah)
Gemsbok (O. gazella)
Arabian oryx (O. leucoryx)
Addax (A. nasomaculatus)
Upemba lechwe (K. anselli)
Waterbuck (K. ellipsiprymnus)
Kob (K. kob)
Lechwe (K. leche)
Nile lechwe (K. megaceros)
Puku (K. vardonii)
Southern reedbuck (R. arundinum)
Mountain reedbuck (R. fulvorufula)
Bohor reedbuck (R. redunca)
Impala (A. melampus)
Grey rhebok (P. capreolus)
Hirola (B. hunteri)
Topi (D. korrigum)
Common tsessebe (D. lunatus)
Bontebok (D. pygargus)
Bangweulu tsessebe (D. superstes)
Hartebeest (A. buselaphus)
Red hartebeest (A. caama)
Lichtenstein's hartebeest (A. lichtensteinii)
Black wildebeest (C. gnou)
Blue wildebeest (C. taurinus)
Tibetan antelope (P. hodgsonii)
Large subfamily listed below
Large subfamily listed below
Large subfamily listed below
Bovidae (subfamily Caprinae)
Barbary sheep (A. lervia)
Takin (B. taxicolor)
Wild goat (C. aegagrus)
Domestic goat (C. aegagrus hircus)
West Caucasian tur
West Caucasian tur (C. caucasia)
East Caucasian tur
East Caucasian tur (C. cylindricornis)
Markhor (C. falconeri)
Alpine ibex (C. ibex)
Nubian ibex (C. nubiana)
Spanish ibex (C. pyrenaica)
Siberian ibex (C. sibirica)
Walia ibex (C. walie)
Japanese serow (C. crispus)
Taiwan serow (C. swinhoei)
Sumatran serow (C. sumatraensis)
Mainland serow (C. milneedwardsii)
Red serow (C. rubidusi)
Himalayan serow (C. thar)
Nilgiri tahr (H. hylocrius)
Arabian tahr (H. jayakari)
Himalayan tahr (H. jemlahicus)
Red goral (N. baileyi)
Long-tailed goral (N. caudatus)
Himalayan goral (N. goral)
Chinese goral (N. griseus)
Mountain goat (O. americanus)
Muskox (O. moschatus)
Argali (O. ammon)
Domestic sheep (O. aries)
Bighorn sheep (O. canadensis)
Dall sheep (O. dalli)
Mouflon (O. musimon)
Snow sheep (O. nivicola)
Urial (O. orientalis)
Bharal (P. nayaur)
Dwarf blue sheep
Dwarf blue sheep (P. schaeferi)
Pyrenean chamois (R. pyrenaica)
Chamois (R. rupicapra)
Bovidae (subfamily Bovinae)
Four-horned antelope (T. quadricornis)
Nilgai (B. tragocamelus)
Water buffalo (B. bubalis)
Wild Water Buffalo (B. arnee)
Lowland anoa (B. depressicornis)
Mountain anoa (B. quarlesi)
Tamaraw (B. mindorensis)
Banteng (B. javanicus)
Gaur (B. gaurus)
Gayal (B. frontalis)
Domestic yak (B. grunniens)
Wild yak (B. mutus)
Cattle (B. taurus)
Kouprey (B. sauveli)
Kting voar (P. spiralis)
Saola (P. nghetinhensis)
African buffalo (S. caffer)
American bison (B. bison)
European bison (B. bonasus)
Sitatunga (T. spekeii)
Nyala (T. angasii)
Kéwel (T. scriptus)
Cape bushbuck (T. sylvaticus)
Mountain nyala (T. buxtoni)
Lesser kudu (T. imberbis)
Greater kudu (T. strepsiceros)
Bongo (T. eurycerus)
Common eland (T. oryx)
Giant eland (T. derbianus)
Bovidae (subfamily Antilopinae)
Dibatag (A. clarkei)
Springbok (A. marsupialis)
Blackbuck (A. cervicapra)
Mongalla gazelle (E. albonotata)
Red-fronted gazelle (E. rufifrons)
Thomson's gazelle (E. thomsonii)
Heuglin's gazelle (E. tilonura)
Mountain gazelle (G. gazella)
Neumann's gazelle (G. erlangeri)
Speke's gazelle (G. spekei)
Dorcas gazelle (G. dorcas)
Chinkara (G. bennettii)
Cuvier's gazelle (G. cuvieri)
Rhim gazelle (G. leptoceros)
Goitered gazelle (G. subgutturosa)
Gerenuk (L. walleri)
Dama gazelle (N. dama)
Grant's gazelle (N. granti)
Soemmerring's gazelle (N. soemmerringii)
Mongolian gazelle (P. gutturosa)
Goa (P. picticaudata)
Przewalski's gazelle (P. przewalskii)
Tibetan antelope (P. hodgsonii)
Saiga antelope (S. tatarica)
Beira (D. megalotis)
Günther's dik-dik (M. guentheri)
Kirk's dik-dik (M. kirkii)
Silver dik-dik (M. piacentinii)
Salt's dik-dik (M. saltiana)
Bates's pygmy antelope
Bates's pygmy antelope (N. batesi)
Suni (N. moschatus)
Royal antelope (N. pygmaeus)
Klipspringer (O. oreotragus)
Oribi (O. ourebi)
Steenbok (R. campestris)
Cape grysbok (R. melanotis)
Sharpe's grysbok (R. sharpei)
Buru babirusa (B. babyrussa)
North Sulawesi babirusa
North Sulawesi babirusa (B. celebensis)
Togian babirusa (B. togeanensis)
Giant forest hog
Giant forest hog (H. meinertzhageni)
Desert warthog (P. aethiopicus)
Common warthog (P. africanus)
Pygmy hog (P. salvania)
Bushpig (P. larvatus)
Red river hog
Red river hog (P. porcus)
Palawan bearded pig
Palawan bearded pig (S. ahoenobarbus)
Bornean bearded pig
Bornean bearded pig (S. barbatus)
Indo-chinese warty pig (S. bucculentus)
Visayan warty pig
Visayan warty pig (S. cebifrons)
Celebes warty pig
Celebes warty pig (S. celebensis)
Flores warty pig (S. heureni)
Oliver's warty pig
Oliver's warty pig (S. oliveri)
Philippine warty pig
Philippine warty pig (S. philippensis)
Wild boar (S. scrofa)
Timor warty pig (S. timoriensis)
Javan warty pig
Javan warty pig (S. verrucosus)
White-lipped peccary (T. pecari)
Chacoan peccary (C. wagneri)
Collared peccary (P. tajacu)
Giant peccary (P. maximus)
Llama (L. glama)
Guanaco (L. guanicoe)
Vicuña (V. vicugna)
Alpaca (V. pacos)
Dromedary (C. dromedarius)
Bactrian camel (C. bactrianus)
Bactrian camel (C. ferus)
Whippomorpha (unranked clade)
Hippopotamus (H. amphibius)
Pygmy hippopotamus (C. liberiensis)
Game animals and shooting in North America
Snipe (common snipe)
Cougar (mountain lion)
Big game hunting