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ELK } Cervus canadensis

RANGE: Western North America and Eastern Asia, with introduced populations in the Eastern U.S., South America, Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand

STATUS: The International Union for Conservation of Nature considers the elk a species of Least Concern.

THREATS: Habitat loss and fragmentation due to human encroachment

The bugling of bull (male) elk during the fall mating season is one of the loudest and most distinctive animal calls in nature. Rutting bulls bugle to attract cows (female elk), and can amass a harem of 20 or more cows. Then, the real work begins. Using his enormous antlers, the bull must constantly guard his harem from other males looking to capitalize on his success. Bulls with large harems rarely have time to eat or sleep, and their dedication comes at a high cost: Bulls may lose as much as 20 percent of their body weight during the mating season. Six to eight months later, when the calves are born, they waste no time growing up – often standing on their own only 20 minutes after birth.


Photo © Terry Spivey, USFS, bugwood.org