• Wind Cave National Park - Two Worlds

    Wind Cave

    National Park South Dakota

Elk

Elk - Cervus elephus
Elk - Cervus elaphus
Click picture for more information
NPS Photo by D.A. Buehler
 

Listen to the elk (138k wma file)

 

Class

Mammalia
Order Artiodactyla (same as bison, sheep, pronghorn)
Family Cervidae (deer family) Hoofed with antlers, which are shed each year. Same family as moose and caribou. Chew cud.
Genus Cervus
Species elaphus
Name/
History
The native subspecies, Eastern elk, were indigenous to this area. The Rocky Mountain subspecies was introduced to Wind Cave National Park in 1914.
Size
Weight (lbs)

Male
700-1000

Female
500-600

Fawn
28.6

Height (ft)

4-5

4-4.5

2.5

Rut August-October. Bulls establish harem of 15-20 cows, sometimes up to 30 or as few as one.
Gestation 8.5 months
Birth May-June. Calves are able to walk shortly after birth. Cows stay away from herd for 2-3 weeks until calf is able to travel.
# young Usually 1
Age 14 years, up to 25 years
Habitat/
Range

Semi-open forest, mountain meadows, foothills, plains, valleys. Once the most widely distributed members of the deer family in North America spread form the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Mexico to northern Alberta. Began to disappear in the east in the early 1800s.

Food Grass, browse, forbs. Take the elk quiz!
Predators Wolves (which are not found in Wind Cave NP), mountain lions, humans.
Disease Brucellosis, tuberculosis, anthrax, Chronic Wasting Disease
Communication

Calf squeal; cows squeal, bark and bugle; and bulls bugle. Communicating is used to call the year, alert, when animal is distressed, during rutting season as a challenge or possibly to vent emotions.

Behavior/
Characteristics
Bulls separate from the cow-calf herd until the rut. Older cows are the leaders.


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