Cervus elaphus
Side view of bull (male) elk with full grown antlers.  Photo by Ryan Hagerty/USFWS

Elk are also known as wapiti, a Shawnee Indian term that means “light colored rump.” These are large animals with a dark chocolate brown body and a tan rump and small tail. They will shelter in the forest during the heat of summer and the storms of winter. They feed in open grasslands. Male elk are known for bugling during the breeding season – a high pitched whistling to attract females, defend territory, and challenge other males.  Please remember, to reduce disturbance to the animals, artificial calls are not allowed on the Bison Range.

Elk at the Bison Range can frequently been seen feeding off the bottom of Mission Creek during the dry part of late summer. And since female elk do not carry antlers (only males of elk and deer have antlers), sometimes people will think they are moose. Moose are extremely rare in this area and they tend to be solitary or just a mother/calf group. Also, look at their rumps – remember that elk are called wapiti for a reason. Moose rumps are dark.

Facts About Elk

Male 700-1000 pounds
Female 500-600 pounds
Grazer - grasses
15 years
Breeds September to October
Young (usually 1) born June
Early morning and in evening, along forest edge and on Mission Creek