I'm not an elk expert by any means, but since this site is called “Silver Elk” I should say something about it. So here goes. . .

Okay boys and girls, time for today's basic zoology lesson. . .

American Elk (Wapiti)

American Elk (Wapiti)

In North America, the elk is the second largest species of deer (f. Cervidae), exceeded in size only by the moose. (If you're from Europe, our moose is your elk and our elk is your red deer, more or less. If you're from India, the name elk is sometimes used for the sambar.)

The elk on the home page of this site and in the image to the right, is more properly called the American elk, or wapiti (Cervus elaphus canadensis). The name wapiti is from the Shawnee language, and essentially means “white rump.” Although there are four subspecies of elk in North America, the American subspecies is the largest in number.

In general, cow (female) elk are from 500 to 700 pounds (I'm American; in round numbers this is approximately 230 to 320 Kg for almost everyone else). Bull (male) elk are half again as much, and may stand over 5 feet (over 1.5 m) at the shoulder. A newborn elk calf is no slouch either, weighing as much as 45 pounds (over 20 Kg). It may live around 15 years in the wild.

The size of the antlers (rack) on bull elk may grow larger then 5 feet across, and normally have 6, 7, or 8 points (per side) on a mature animal. These antlers are shed and regrown every year. Cow elk do not grow antlers.

North American Moose

North American Moose

Prior to European expansion into North America, the number of elk was huge, estimated to be as high as 10 million. But by around 1920, through indiscriminate hunting and loss of habitat to crops and rangeland, their numbers had fallen to under 100,000. Subsequent management of hunting has allowed them to make a recovery up to around 800,000 individuals. However, the loss of habitat is far more pressing and land needs by humans are unlikely to allow their numbers to rise further.

The extinct Irish elk (g. Megaloceros) was about the size of the modern moose, and had the largest antlers of any deer known, ranging as much as 13 feet (about 4 meters for the metric-enabled) across. Unlike the modern elk, Irish elk's antlers were more like those of the moose. This species may have survived until the end of the Pleistocene epoch (around 8,000 b.c.e.), and as late as 500-700 b.c.e. in some isolated areas, such as the Black Sea.