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American Elk
(Cervus elaphus)

The American Elk is the second biggest member of the deer family coming in second in size to moose. The name "elk" was given to the American Elk by european settlers because they looked like the elk or moose in Europe. However it has been shown that the American elk is not biologically closely related to the European elks.


Elk Fun Facts:


  • A bull elk weigh up to 700 pounds while females average around 525 pounds. Adult elk stand about 5 feet tall and are 7 to 10 feet long.
  • An average set of Bull moose antlers weigh 30 pounds and are usually shed in March or April. They start to regrow their antlers in May and the antlers stop growing around August.
  • Elk eat grasses, bark, leaves, acorns and buds from trees and shrubs.
  • Female elk have one calf in late May or early June. The calf weighs around 30 pounds.
  • Elk can live up to 15 years.


Good National Parks to view large herds of elk are:

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Grand Tetons National Park, Wyoming


National Park Service


The Yellowstone / Grand Teton region has an elk population of around 30,000 animals from 7 to 8 herds. The Jackson Elk Herd is the most significant of the elk herds in this region. The Jackson Elk Herd winters between late October and early April in the National Elk Refuge that is just north of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The National Elk Refuge provides a winter home for over 7,500 elk. This herd's summer range, between April and October, is at higher elevations in southern Yellowstone National Park, Grand Tetons National Park, and national forests northeast and north of Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Individuals from the Jackson Elk Herd have been used to seed, re-introduce and replenish other elk herds throughout the United States.

Bull Elk Picture Yellowstone
Yellowstone NP Photo - Ed Austin/Herb Jones

Cow Moose with Calve
Yellowstone National Park - Jim Peaco

Yellowstone National Park - J. Schmidt

Yellowstone National Park - Jim Peaco

Bull Elk in Water Photo
Yellowstone National Park William S. Keller

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