Elk Facts

Elk Facts
Elk is large mammal that belongs to the family of deer. There are over 10 subspecies of elk that can be found in North America and Asia. Elk inhabits steppes, desert valleys, deciduous, coniferous and mixed forests and alpine meadows. Number of North American elks dropped from 10 million to 100.000 animals in the 18th and 19th century due to excessive hunting and habitat destruction. Thanks to strictly regulated hunting policy today, elks are once again numerous in the wild.
Interesting Elk Facts:
Elk can reach 4 to 5 feet at the shoulder height and 325 to 1100 pounds of weight. Males are larger than females.
Elk is covered with dark brown or reddish colored coat during the summer and light grey or yellow, dense coat during the winter. Head, neck, legs and belly are darker than the rest of the body.
Elk has long head with large ears and massive body with thin legs and short tail.
Males develop antlers that can reach 4 feet in length and 40 pounds of weight. Elks shed their antlers in March. New pair of antlers starts to grow in May. Antlers are covered with skin called velvet.
Elk is crepuscular animal (active at dusk and dawn).
Elk is herbivore (plant-eater). Its diet is based on tree sprouts, forbs, grass and bark. Elk consumes around 20 pounds of food per day.
Natural enemies of elks are bears, mountain lions, coyotes and wolves.
Elks migrate into the mountains at the beginning of the spring, and return back to the valleys at the beginning of the winter.
Elks live in herds composed of animals of one sex. Males form smaller herds than females. One group usually occupies territory of 600 square miles.
Mating season takes place from September to October.
Males produce loud call known as bugle that can be heard miles away. They also cover their coat with urine to attract females. Males establish dominance via fights. Winner of the battle gathers harem of around 20 females.
Pregnancy in females lasts 240 to 262 days and ends with one baby (calf). Female leaves the herd to give birth in thick bush. Baby is able to stand on its feet 20 minutes after birth.
Young elk is scentless (predators cannot detect it by smell) and covered with creamy spots to ensure camouflage in the early days of life when it is most vulnerable. Mother rejoins the herd with her calf after 3 weeks. Young elk stays with its mother until the age of 12 months.
Elk reaches sexual maturity at the age of 2 years. Males start to reproduce at the age of 4 to 5 years, when they become strong enough to defeat other males.
Elk can survive 8 to 12 years in the wild and 20 years in the captivity.

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