2023 · Days of The Week · Wildlife Wednesday

Elk/Wapiti (Cervus canadensis)

Elk at the Elk & Bison Prairie in Land Between The Lakes

The North American Elk is one of the largest species within the deer family, Cervidae, and one of the largest terrestrial mammals in its native range of North America and Central and East Asia. The word “elk” originally referred to the European variety of the moose, Alces alces, but was transferred to Cervus canadensis by North American colonists. The name “wapiti” is sometimes used for Cervus canadensis, which derives from a Shawnee and Cree word meaning “white rump”.

Elk range in forest and forest-edge habitats, feeding on grasses, plants, leaves, and bark. Male elk have large antlers which they 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 it is currently native to North America and central/eastern Asia, it had a much broader distribution in the past. Populations were present across Eurasia into Western Europe during the Late Pleistocene and survived into the early Holocene in southern Sweden and the Alps; the extinct Merriam’s elk subspecies ranged into Mexico. The elk have adapted well to countries where it has been introduced, including Argentina and New Zealand. Its adaptability may threaten endemic species and the ecosystems into which it has been submitted.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elk

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