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Various Cervus
Cervus
elaphus subspecies

The elk, or wapiti ( Cervus
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
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
British English
and in reference to populations in Eurasia. Elk
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
North America
and eastern Asia, they have adapted well to countries in which they have been introduced, including Argentina
Argentina
and New Zealand. Their great adaptability may threaten endemic species and ecosystems into which they have been introduced. Elk
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 success. Some cultures revere the elk as a spiritual force. In parts of Asia, antlers and their velvet are used in traditional medicines. Elk
Elk
are hunted as a game species. The meat is leaner and higher in protein than beef or chicken.[3] It was long believed to be a subspecies of the European red deer ( Cervus
Cervus
elaphus), but evidence from a number of mitochondrial DNA genetic studies beginning in 1998 show that the two are distinct species.[4][5][6][7] Key morphological differences that distinguish C. canadensis from C. elaphus are the former's wider rump patch and paler-hued antlers.[8]

Contents

1 Naming and etymology 2 Taxonomy

2.1 Subspecies

3 Anatomy 4 Behavior

4.1 Reproduction and lifecycle 4.2 Predators and defensive tactics 4.3 Migration 4.4 Diet 4.5 Parasites and disease

5 Ecology

5.1 Distribution 5.2 Introductions

6 Cultural references 7 Commercial uses 8 See also 9 References 10 External links

Naming and etymology[edit] 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 Latin
Latin
alces, Old Norse
Old Norse
elgr, Scandinavian elg/älg and German Elch, all of which refer to the animal known in North America
North America
as the moose.[9] The name wapiti is from the Shawnee and Cree
Cree
word waapiti, meaning "white rump".[10] This name is used in particular for the Asian subspecies (Altai wapiti, Tian Shan
Tian Shan
wapiti, Manchurian wapiti
Manchurian wapiti
and Alashan wapiti), because in Eurasia
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
Cervus
elaphus maral), a subspecies of red deer. There is a subspecies of elk in Mongolia called the Altai wapiti
Altai wapiti
( Cervus
Cervus
canadensis sibiricus),[11] also known as the Altai maral. Taxonomy[edit]

Elk
Elk
crossing a rock face

Members of the genus Cervus
Cervus
(and hence early relatives or possible ancestors of the elk) first appear in the fossil record 25 million years ago, during the Oligocene
Oligocene
in Eurasia, but do not appear in the North American fossil record until the early Miocene.[12] The extinct Irish elk
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.[13] Until recently, red deer and elk were considered to be one species, Cervus
Cervus
elaphus.[11][14] However, mitochondrial DNA
DNA
studies, conducted on hundreds of samples in 2004 from red deer and elk subspecies as well as other species of the Cervus
Cervus
deer family, strongly indicate that elk, or wapiti, should be a distinct species, namely Cervus canadensis.[6] The previous classification had over a dozen subspecies under the C. elaphus species designation; DNA
DNA
evidence concludes that elk are more closely related to Thorold's deer
Thorold's deer
and even sika deer than they are to the red deer.[6] Elk
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.[15] Subspecies[edit] 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
DNA
investigations of the Eurasian subspecies revealed that phenotypic variation in antlers, mane and rump patch development are based on "climatic-related lifestyle factors".[16] Of the six subspecies of elk known to have inhabited North America
North America
in historical times, four remain, including the Roosevelt (C. canadensis roosevelti), tule (C. canadensis nannodes), Manitoban (C. canadensis manitobensis) and Rocky Mountain
Mountain
(C. canadensis nelsoni).[17] The eastern elk (C. canadensis canadensis) and Merriam's elk (C. canadensis merriami) subspecies have been extinct for at least a century.[18][19] Four subspecies described in Asia include the Altai wapiti
Altai wapiti
(C. canadensis sibiricus) and the Tianshan wapiti (C. canadensis songaricus). Two distinct subspecies found in China
China
and Korea
Korea
are the Manchurian wapiti
Manchurian wapiti
(C. canadensis xanthopygus) and the Alashan wapitis (C. canadensis alashanicus). The Manchurian wapiti
Manchurian wapiti
is darker and more reddish in coloration than the other populations. The Alashan wapiti of north central China
China
is the smallest of all subspecies, has the lightest coloration and is the least studied.[15] 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 Manchurian and 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.[20] Recent DNA
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
Roosevelt elk
seem to belong to one subspecies ( Cervus
Cervus
canadensis canadensis). Even the Siberian elk ( Cervus
Cervus
canadensis sibiricus) are more or less identical to the American forms and therefore may belong to this subspecies, too. However the Manchurian wapiti
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 mitochondrial DNA
DNA
studies.[6] These Chinese subspecies are sometimes treated as a distinct species, namely the Central Asian red deer ( Cervus
Cervus
wallichi), which also includes the Kashmir stag.[21]

Northern and American group

Roosevelt elk
Roosevelt elk
(C. c. roosevelti) Tule elk
Tule elk
(C. c. nannodes) Manitoban elk
Manitoban elk
(C. c. manitobensis) Rocky Mountain elk
Rocky Mountain elk
(C. c. nelsoni) Eastern elk
Eastern elk
(C. c. canadensis; extinct) Merriam's elk (C. c. merriami; extinct)

Eastern group

Altai wapiti
Altai wapiti
(C. c. sibiricus) Tian Shan wapiti (C. c. songaricus) Manchurian wapiti
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
Kashmir stag
(C. c. hanglu)

Illustration of eastern elk

Illustration of Altai wapiti

Illustration of Manchurian wapiti

Illustration of Kashmir stag

Anatomy[edit]

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.[22] In North America, males are called bulls, and females are called cows. In Asia, stag and hind, respectively, are sometimes used instead. Elk
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
Moose
are larger and darker than elk; bulls have distinctively different antlers. Elk
Elk
gather in herds, while moose are solitary. Elk
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.[23][24] The largest of the subspecies is the Roosevelt elk
Roosevelt elk
(C. c. roosevelti), found west of the Cascade Range
Cascade Range
in the U.S. states
U.S. states
of California, Oregon
Oregon
and Washington, and in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Roosevelt elk
Roosevelt elk
have been reintroduced into Alaska, where the largest males are estimated to weigh up to 600 kg (1,300 lb).[25] 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).[26][27] 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.[26] 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).[28] 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 while the Altai wapiti
Altai wapiti
have the smallest.[15] The formation and retention of antlers is testosterone-driven.[29] 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.

Rocky Mountain
Mountain
elk

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.[20] 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
Subspecies
living in arid climates tend to have lighter colored coats than do those living in forests.[30] 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.[15] Calves are born spotted, as is common with many deer species, and they lose their spots by the end of summer. Adult Manchurian wapiti
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.[15] Behavior[edit]

An American elk bugling

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A bison charges an elk near Old Faithful
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.[31] 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.[32] A male elk's urethra points upward so that urine is sprayed almost at a right angle to the penis.[33] The urine soaks into their hair and gives them a distinct smell which attracts cows.[32] 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.[34] 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 oncoming winter.[31] 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.[35] 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 wolf. Reproduction and lifecycle[edit] Further information: 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).[36] 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.[32] Calves are born spotted, as is common with many deer species, and they lose their spots by the end of summer. Manchurian wapiti
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.[37] Elk
Elk
calves are as large as an adult white-tailed deer by the time they are six months old.[38] The offspring will remain with their mothers for almost a year, leaving about the time that the next season's offspring are produced.[35] The gestation period is the same for all subspecies. Elk
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.[39] Predators and defensive tactics[edit]

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 elk.[35] Coyote
Coyote
packs mostly prey on elk calves, though they can sometimes take a winter- or disease-weakened adult.[40] In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem which includes Yellowstone National Park, bears are the most significant predators of calves.[41] Major predators in Asia include the wolf, dhole, brown bear, Siberian tiger, Amur leopard, and snow leopard. Eurasian lynx
Eurasian lynx
and wild boar sometimes prey on Asian elk calves.[15] Historically, tigers in the Lake Baikal region fed on Manchurian wapiti, and continue to do so in the Amur region.[42] 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.[35] 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. Wapiti in New Zealand
New Zealand
have no natural predators.[43] Migration[edit]

Elk
Elk
wintering in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, after migrating there during the fall

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.[44] During the winter, they favor wooded areas and sheltered valleys for protection from the wind and availability of tree bark to eat. Roosevelt elk
Roosevelt elk
are generally non-migratory due to less seasonal variability of food sources.[35] The 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
Elk
in the southern regions of 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 Elk
Elk
Refuge. Conservationists there ensure the herd is well fed during the harsh winters.[45] Many of the elk that reside in the northern sections of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
migrate to lower altitudes in Montana, mainly to the north and west. Diet[edit]

Elk
Elk
pellet group

Elk
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.[46][47] Elk
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
Elk
consume an average of 9.1 kilograms (20 lb) of various vegetation daily.[48] 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.[49] Range and wildlife managers conduct surveys of elk pellet groups to monitor populations and resource use.[50][51] Parasites and disease[edit] At least 53 species of protist and animal parasites have been identified in elk.[52] 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.[53] 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.[9] The liver fluke Fascioloides magna
Fascioloides magna
and the nematode Dictyocaulus viviparus are also commonly found parasites that can be fatal to elk.[54] 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
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.[55] In 2002, South Korea
Korea
banned the importation of elk antler velvet due to concerns about chronic wasting disease.[56] 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.[57] Nevetheless, research has been ongoing since 2002, and a successful vaccine has yet to be developed as of 2016.[58] A recent necropsy study of captive elk in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
attributed the cause of death in 33 of 65 cases to either gastrointestinal parasites (21 cases, primarily Eimeria
Eimeria
sp. and Ostertagia sp.) or bacterial infections (12 cases, mostly pneumonia).[59] Elk
Elk
hoof disease was first noticed in the state of Washington in the late 1990s in the Cowlitz River
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.[60][61][62] Ecology[edit] Distribution[edit]

Bull elk bugling during the rut

Modern subspecies are descended from elk that once inhabited Beringia, a steppe region between Asia and North America
North America
that connected the two continents during the Pleistocene. Beringia
Beringia
provided a migratory route for numerous mammal species, including brown bear, camel, horse, caribou, and moose, as well as humans.[63] As the Pleistocene
Pleistocene
came to an end, ocean levels began to rise; elk migrated southwards into Asia and North America. In North America
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
Siberia
and central Asia were once more widespread but today are restricted to the mountain ranges west of Lake Baikal
Lake Baikal
including the Sayan and Altai Mountains
Altai Mountains
of Mongolia
Mongolia
and the Tianshan region that borders Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and China's Xinjiang
Xinjiang
Province.[1] The habitat of Siberian elk in Asia is similar to that of the Rocky Mountain
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

Introductions[edit]

Bull elk on a captive range in Nebraska. These elk, originally from Rocky Mountain
Mountain
herds, exhibit modified behavior due to having been held in captivity, under less selective pressure

The 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[64] After elk were reintroduced in the states of Kentucky, North Carolina
North Carolina
and Tennessee, they migrated into the neighboring states of Virginia
Virginia
and West Virginia, and have established permanent populations there.[65] In 2017, a male elk, likely from the Smoky Mountains population, was sighted in South Carolina
South Carolina
for the first time in nearly 300 years.[66] Elk
Elk
have also been reintroduced to a number of other states, including Pennsylvania,[67][68] Michigan, Wisconsin, Missouri
Missouri
[69] and Etolin and Afognak
Afognak
Islands in Alaska.[70] Reintroduction of the elk into Ontario began in the early 20th century, and is still ongoing due to the limited success.[71] As of 1989, population figures for the Rocky Mountain
Mountain
subspecies were 782,500, and estimated numbers for all North American subspecies exceeded 1 million.[72] Prior to the European colonization of North America, there were an estimated 10 million elk on the continent.[23] 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
Elk
and red deer were introduced to Argentina
Argentina
in the early 20th century.[73] 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.[74] This negative impact on native animal species has led the IUCN
IUCN
to identify the elk as one of the world's 100 worst invaders.[75] The introduction of deer to New Zealand
New Zealand
began in the middle of the 19th century, and current populations are primarily European red deer, with only 15 percent being elk.[76] 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.[77] As in Chile and Argentina, the IUCN has declared that red deer and elk populations in New Zealand
New Zealand
are an invasive species.[75] Cultural references[edit]

A Kiowa
Kiowa
couple. The woman on the right is wearing an elk tooth dress.

Elk
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, Blackfeet, Ojibwa
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.[78] 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
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 hunting.[79] The Rocky Mountain elk
Rocky Mountain elk
is the official state animal for Utah.[80] An image of an elk and a moose appear on the state seal and flag of Michigan.[81] The 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.[82] A prized possession of many members of the B.P.O.E. are jewel encrusted, gold mounted elk teeth – which are actually ivory.[83] Commercial uses[edit]

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.[84] Elk
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 chicken.[85] Elk
Elk
meat is also a good source of iron, phosphorus and zinc.[86] 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
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.[56] However, consuming velvet from elk in North America
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.[87] 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
Elk
farms are relatively common in North America
North America
and New Zealand.[76] Elk
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.[23] 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 $46,000.[88] See also[edit]

Mammals portal

Alashan wapiti Altai wapiti Elk
Elk
farming Manchurian wapiti Manitoban elk Rocky Mountain
Mountain
elk Roosevelt elk Tian Shan
Tian Shan
wapiti Tule elk

References[edit]

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External links[edit]

Wikispecies
Wikispecies
has information related to Cervus
Cervus
canadensis

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Cervus
Cervus
canadensis.

Arizona Elk
Elk
Arizona Game and Fish Department Rocky Mountain
Mountain
Elk
Elk
Foundation Yellowstone Elk
Elk
– Greater Yellowstone Resource Guide Smithsonian Institution - North American Mammals: Cervus
Cervus
(elaphus) canadensis

v t e

Extant Artiodactyla
Artiodactyla
species

Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Mammalia Infraclass: Eutheria Superorder: Laurasiatheria

Suborder Ruminantia

Antilocapridae

Antilocapra

Pronghorn
Pronghorn
(A. americana)

Giraffidae

Okapia

Okapi
Okapi
(O. johnstoni)

Giraffa

Northern giraffe
Northern giraffe
(G. camelopardalis) Southern giraffe
Southern giraffe
(G. giraffa) Reticulated giraffe
Reticulated giraffe
(G. reticulata) Masai giraffe
Masai giraffe
(G. tippelskirchi)

Moschidae

Moschus

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)

Tragulidae

Hyemoschus

Water chevrotain
Water chevrotain
(H. aquaticus)

Moschiola

Indian spotted chevrotain
Indian spotted chevrotain
(M. indica) Yellow-striped chevrotain
Yellow-striped chevrotain
(M. kathygre) Sri Lankan spotted chevrotain
Sri Lankan spotted chevrotain
(M. meminna)

Tragulus

Java mouse-deer
Java mouse-deer
(T. javanicus) Lesser mouse-deer
Lesser mouse-deer
(T. kanchil) Greater mouse-deer
Greater mouse-deer
(T. napu) Philippine mouse-deer
Philippine mouse-deer
(T. nigricans) Vietnam mouse-deer
Vietnam mouse-deer
(T. versicolor) Williamson's mouse-deer
Williamson's mouse-deer
(T. williamsoni)

Cervidae

Large family listed below

Bovidae

Large family listed below

Family Cervidae

Cervinae

Muntiacus

Indian muntjac
Indian muntjac
(M. muntjak) Reeves's muntjac
Reeves's muntjac
(M. reevesi) Hairy-fronted muntjac
Hairy-fronted muntjac
(M. crinifrons) Fea's muntjac
Fea's muntjac
(M. feae) Bornean yellow muntjac
Bornean yellow muntjac
(M. atherodes) Roosevelt's muntjac
Roosevelt's muntjac
(M. rooseveltorum) Gongshan muntjac
Gongshan muntjac
(M. gongshanensis) Giant muntjac
Giant muntjac
(M. vuquangensis) Truong Son muntjac
Truong Son muntjac
(M. truongsonensis) Leaf muntjac
Leaf muntjac
(M. putaoensis) Sumatran muntjac
Sumatran muntjac
(M. montanus) Pu Hoat muntjac
Pu Hoat muntjac
(M. puhoatensis)

Elaphodus

Tufted deer
Tufted deer
(E. cephalophus)

Dama

Fallow deer
Fallow deer
(D. dama) Persian fallow deer
Persian fallow deer
(D. mesopotamica)

Axis

Chital
Chital
(A. axis)

Rucervus

Barasingha
Barasingha
(R. duvaucelii)

Panolia

Eld's deer
Eld's deer
(P. eldii)

Elaphurus

Père David's deer
Père David's deer
(E. davidianus)

Hyelaphus

Hog deer (H. porcinus) Calamian deer
Calamian deer
(H. calamianensis) Bawean deer
Bawean deer
(H. kuhlii)

Rusa

Sambar deer
Sambar deer
(R. unicolor) Rusa deer (R. timorensis) Philippine sambar (R. mariannus) Philippine spotted deer (R. alfredi)

Cervus

Red deer
Red deer
(C. elaphus) Elk
Elk
(C. canadensis) Thorold's deer
Thorold's deer
(C. albirostris) Sika deer
Sika deer
(C. nippon)

Capreolinae

Alces

Moose
Moose
(A. alces)

Hydropotes

Water deer
Water deer
(H. inermis)

Capreolus

Roe deer
Roe deer
(C. capreolus) Siberian roe deer
Siberian roe deer
(C. pygargus)

Rangifer

Reindeer
Reindeer
(R. tarandus)

Hippocamelus

Taruca
Taruca
(H. antisensis) South Andean deer
South Andean deer
(H. bisulcus)

Mazama

Red brocket
Red brocket
(M. americana) Small red brocket
Small red brocket
(M. bororo) Merida brocket
Merida brocket
(M. bricenii) Dwarf brocket
Dwarf brocket
(M. chunyi) Gray brocket
Gray brocket
(M. gouazoubira) Pygmy brocket
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)

Ozotoceros

Pampas deer
Pampas deer
(O. bezoarticus)

Blastocerus

Marsh deer
Marsh deer
(B. dichotomus)

Pudu

Northern pudú (P. mephistophiles) Southern pudú (P. pudu)

Odocoileus

White-tailed deer
White-tailed deer
(O. virginianus) Mule deer
Mule deer
(O. hemionus)

Family Bovidae

Cephalophinae

Cephalophus

Abbott's duiker
Abbott's duiker
(C. spadix) Aders's duiker
Aders's duiker
(C. adersi) Bay duiker
Bay duiker
(C. dorsalis) Black duiker
Black duiker
(C. niger) Black-fronted duiker
Black-fronted duiker
(C. nigrifrons) Brooke's duiker (C. brookei) Harvey's duiker
Harvey's duiker
(C. harveyi) Jentink's duiker
Jentink's duiker
(C. jentinki) Ogilby's duiker
Ogilby's duiker
(C. ogilbyi) Peters's duiker (C. callipygus) Red-flanked duiker
Red-flanked duiker
(C. rufilatus) Red forest duiker
Red forest duiker
(C. natalensis) Ruwenzori duiker
Ruwenzori duiker
(C. rubidis) Weyns's duiker
Weyns's duiker
(C. weynsi) White-bellied duiker
White-bellied duiker
(C. leucogaster) White-legged duiker
White-legged duiker
(C. crusalbum) Yellow-backed duiker
Yellow-backed duiker
(C. Sylvicultor) Zebra duiker
Zebra duiker
(C. zebra)

Philantomba

Blue duiker
Blue duiker
(P. monticola) Maxwell's duiker
Maxwell's duiker
(P. maxwellii) Walter's duiker
Walter's duiker
(P. walteri)

Sylvicapra

Common duiker
Common duiker
(S. grimmia)

Hippotraginae

Hippotragus

Roan antelope
Roan antelope
(H. equinus) Sable antelope
Sable antelope
(H. niger)

Oryx

East African oryx
East African oryx
(O. beisa) Scimitar oryx
Scimitar oryx
(O. dammah) Gemsbok
Gemsbok
(O. gazella) Arabian oryx
Arabian oryx
(O. leucoryx)

Addax

Addax
Addax
(A. nasomaculatus)

Reduncinae

Kobus

Upemba lechwe
Upemba lechwe
(K. anselli) Waterbuck
Waterbuck
(K. ellipsiprymnus) Kob
Kob
(K. kob) Lechwe
Lechwe
(K. leche) Nile lechwe
Nile lechwe
(K. megaceros) Puku
Puku
(K. vardonii)

Redunca

Southern reedbuck
Southern reedbuck
(R. arundinum) Mountain
Mountain
reedbuck (R. fulvorufula) Bohor reedbuck
Bohor reedbuck
(R. redunca)

Aepycerotinae

Aepyceros

Impala
Impala
(A. melampus)

Peleinae

Pelea

Grey rhebok
Grey rhebok
(P. capreolus)

Alcelaphinae

Beatragus

Hirola
Hirola
(B. hunteri)

Damaliscus

Topi
Topi
(D. korrigum) Common tsessebe
Common tsessebe
(D. lunatus) Bontebok
Bontebok
(D. pygargus) Bangweulu tsessebe
Bangweulu tsessebe
(D. superstes)

Alcelaphus

Hartebeest
Hartebeest
(A. buselaphus) Red hartebeest
Red hartebeest
(A. caama) Lichtenstein's hartebeest
Lichtenstein's hartebeest
(A. lichtensteinii)

Connochaetes

Black wildebeest
Black wildebeest
(C. gnou) Blue wildebeest
Blue wildebeest
(C. taurinus)

Pantholopinae

Pantholops

Tibetan antelope
Tibetan antelope
(P. hodgsonii)

Caprinae

Large subfamily listed below

Bovinae

Large subfamily listed below

Antilopinae

Large subfamily listed below

Family Bovidae
Bovidae
(subfamily Caprinae)

Ammotragus

Barbary sheep
Barbary sheep
(A. lervia)

Budorcas

Takin
Takin
(B. taxicolor)

Capra

Wild goat
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
Markhor
(C. falconeri) Alpine ibex
Alpine ibex
(C. ibex) Nubian ibex
Nubian ibex
(C. nubiana) Spanish ibex
Spanish ibex
(C. pyrenaica) Siberian ibex
Siberian ibex
(C. sibirica) Walia ibex
Walia ibex
(C. walie)

Capricornis

Japanese serow
Japanese serow
(C. crispus) Taiwan serow
Taiwan serow
(C. swinhoei) Sumatran serow
Sumatran serow
(C. sumatraensis) Mainland serow
Mainland serow
(C. milneedwardsii) Red serow
Red serow
(C. rubidusi) Himalayan serow
Himalayan serow
(C. thar)

Hemitragus

Nilgiri tahr
Nilgiri tahr
(H. hylocrius) Arabian tahr
Arabian tahr
(H. jayakari) Himalayan tahr
Himalayan tahr
(H. jemlahicus)

Naemorhedus

Red goral
Red goral
(N. baileyi) Long-tailed goral
Long-tailed goral
(N. caudatus) Himalayan goral
Himalayan goral
(N. goral) Chinese goral
Chinese goral
(N. griseus)

Oreamnos

Mountain
Mountain
goat (O. americanus)

Ovibos

Muskox
Muskox
(O. moschatus)

Ovis

Argali
Argali
(O. ammon) Domestic sheep (O. aries) Bighorn sheep
Bighorn sheep
(O. canadensis) Dall sheep
Dall sheep
(O. dalli) Mouflon
Mouflon
(O. musimon) Snow sheep
Snow sheep
(O. nivicola) Urial
Urial
(O. orientalis)

Pseudois

Bharal
Bharal
(P. nayaur) Dwarf blue sheep
Dwarf blue sheep
(P. schaeferi)

Rupicapra

Pyrenean chamois
Pyrenean chamois
(R. pyrenaica) Chamois
Chamois
(R. rupicapra)

Family Bovidae
Bovidae
(subfamily Bovinae)

Boselaphini

Tetracerus

Four-horned antelope
Four-horned antelope
(T. quadricornis)

Boselaphus

Nilgai
Nilgai
(B. tragocamelus)

Bovini

Bubalus

Water buffalo
Water buffalo
(B. bubalis) Wild Water Buffalo (B. arnee) Lowland anoa (B. depressicornis) Mountain
Mountain
anoa (B. quarlesi) Tamaraw
Tamaraw
(B. mindorensis)

Bos

Banteng
Banteng
(B. javanicus) Gaur
Gaur
(B. gaurus) Gayal
Gayal
(B. frontalis) Domestic yak
Domestic yak
(B. grunniens) Wild yak
Wild yak
(B. mutus) Cattle
Cattle
(B. taurus) Kouprey
Kouprey
(B. sauveli)

Pseudonovibos

Kting voar (P. spiralis)

Pseudoryx

Saola
Saola
(P. nghetinhensis)

Syncerus

African buffalo
African buffalo
(S. caffer)

Bison

American bison
American bison
(B. bison) European bison
European bison
(B. bonasus)

Tragelaphini

Tragelaphus (including kudus)

Sitatunga
Sitatunga
(T. spekeii) Nyala
Nyala
(T. angasii) Kéwel
Kéwel
(T. scriptus) Cape bushbuck
Cape bushbuck
(T. sylvaticus) Mountain
Mountain
nyala (T. buxtoni) Lesser kudu
Lesser kudu
(T. imberbis) Greater kudu
Greater kudu
(T. strepsiceros) Bongo (T. eurycerus)

Taurotragus

Common eland
Common eland
(T. oryx) Giant eland
Giant eland
(T. derbianus)

Family Bovidae
Bovidae
(subfamily Antilopinae)

Antilopini

Ammodorcas

Dibatag
Dibatag
(A. clarkei)

Antidorcas

Springbok
Springbok
(A. marsupialis)

Antilope

Blackbuck
Blackbuck
(A. cervicapra)

Eudorcas

Mongalla gazelle
Mongalla gazelle
(E. albonotata) Red-fronted gazelle
Red-fronted gazelle
(E. rufifrons) Thomson's gazelle
Thomson's gazelle
(E. thomsonii) Heuglin's gazelle
Heuglin's gazelle
(E. tilonura)

Gazella

Mountain
Mountain
gazelle (G. gazella) Neumann's gazelle (G. erlangeri) Speke's gazelle
Speke's gazelle
(G. spekei) Dorcas gazelle
Dorcas gazelle
(G. dorcas) Chinkara
Chinkara
(G. bennettii) Cuvier's gazelle
Cuvier's gazelle
(G. cuvieri) Rhim gazelle
Rhim gazelle
(G. leptoceros) Goitered gazelle
Goitered gazelle
(G. subgutturosa)

Litocranius

Gerenuk
Gerenuk
(L. walleri)

Nanger

Dama gazelle
Dama gazelle
(N. dama) Grant's gazelle
Grant's gazelle
(N. granti) Soemmerring's gazelle
Soemmerring's gazelle
(N. soemmerringii)

Procapra

Mongolian gazelle
Mongolian gazelle
(P. gutturosa) Goa (P. picticaudata) Przewalski's gazelle
Przewalski's gazelle
(P. przewalskii)

Saigini

Pantholops

Tibetan antelope
Tibetan antelope
(P. hodgsonii)

Saiga

Saiga antelope
Saiga antelope
(S. tatarica)

Neotragini

Dorcatragus

Beira (D. megalotis)

Madoqua

Günther's dik-dik
Günther's dik-dik
(M. guentheri) Kirk's dik-dik
Kirk's dik-dik
(M. kirkii) Silver dik-dik
Silver dik-dik
(M. piacentinii) Salt's dik-dik
Salt's dik-dik
(M. saltiana)

Neotragus

Bates's pygmy antelope
Bates's pygmy antelope
(N. batesi) Suni
Suni
(N. moschatus) Royal antelope
Royal antelope
(N. pygmaeus)

Oreotragus

Klipspringer
Klipspringer
(O. oreotragus)

Ourebia

Oribi
Oribi
(O. ourebi)

Raphicerus

Steenbok
Steenbok
(R. campestris) Cape grysbok
Cape grysbok
(R. melanotis) Sharpe's grysbok
Sharpe's grysbok
(R. sharpei)

Suborder Suina

Suidae

Babyrousa

Buru babirusa
Buru babirusa
(B. babyrussa) North Sulawesi babirusa
North Sulawesi babirusa
(B. celebensis) Togian babirusa
Togian babirusa
(B. togeanensis)

Hylochoerus

Giant forest hog
Giant forest hog
(H. meinertzhageni)

Phacochoerus

Desert warthog
Desert warthog
(P. aethiopicus) Common warthog
Common warthog
(P. africanus)

Porcula

Pygmy hog
Pygmy hog
(P. salvania)

Potamochoerus

Bushpig
Bushpig
(P. larvatus) Red river hog
Red river hog
(P. porcus)

Sus (Pigs)

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
Wild boar
(S. scrofa) Timor warty pig (S. timoriensis) Javan warty pig
Javan warty pig
(S. verrucosus)

Tayassuidae

Tayassu

White-lipped peccary
White-lipped peccary
(T. pecari)

Catagonus

Chacoan peccary
Chacoan peccary
(C. wagneri)

Pecari

Collared peccary
Collared peccary
(P. tajacu) Giant peccary (P. maximus)

Suborder Tylopoda

Camelidae

Lama

Llama
Llama
(L. glama) Guanaco
Guanaco
(L. guanicoe)

Vicugna

Vicuña
Vicuña
(V. vicugna) Alpaca
Alpaca
(V. pacos)

Camelus

Dromedary
Dromedary
(C. dromedarius) Bactrian camel
Bactrian camel
(C. bactrianus) Wild Bactrian camel
Bactrian camel
(C. ferus)

Whippomorpha
Whippomorpha
(unranked clade)

Hippopotamidae

Hippopotamus

Hippopotamus
Hippopotamus
(H. amphibius)

Choeropsis

Pygmy hippopotamus
Pygmy hippopotamus
(C. liberiensis)

v t e

Game animals and shooting in North America

Game birds

Bobwhite quail Chukar Hungarian partridge Prairie chicken Mourning dove Ring-necked pheasant Ptarmigan Ruffed grouse Sharp-tailed grouse Snipe (common snipe) Spruce grouse Turkey Woodcock

Waterfowl

Black duck Canada
Canada
goose Canvasback Gadwall Greater scaup Lesser scaup Mallard Northern pintail Redhead Ross's goose Snow goose Wood duck

Big game

Bighorn sheep Black bear Razorback Brown bear Bison
Bison
(buffalo) Caribou Cougar
Cougar
(mountain lion) Elk Moose White-tailed deer Gray wolf Mountain
Mountain
goat Mule deer Pronghorn Muskox Dall sheep Polar bear

Other quarry

American alligator Bobcat Coyote Fox squirrel Gray fox Gray squirrel Opossum Rabbit Red fox Snowshoe hare

See also

Bear hunting Big game hunting Bison
Bison
hunting Deer
Deer
hunting Waterfowl hunting Whaling Fishing Wolf hunting Upland hunting

Taxon identifiers

Wd: Q180404 ARKive: cervus-canadensis BioLib: 33559 EoL: 4446297 EPPO: CERVCA Fossilworks: 45016 ITIS: 898259 IUCN: 5599

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