ELK, WAPITI, or RED DEER
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Mass: 230 to 450 kg
Length: to 10 ft. (3 m)
Biomes: taiga, temperate forest & rainforest, temperate grassland
Status: no special status.
Range: Although elk were once found throughout much of the Northern Hemisphere, today large populations are found only in the western United States from Canada through the Eastern Rockies to New Mexico, and in a small region of the northern lower peninsula of Michigan. Elk were reestablished in the eastern United States with three transplantations throughout the 1900's. Various elk populations in the western US, including Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, contributed to the reestablishment.
Elks range in color from dark brown in winter to tan in summer and have a characteristic buff colored rump. The head, neck, belly and legs are darker than both the back and sides. Elk generally have a long head with large ears and widely branching antlers as long as 1.1-1.5 m from tip to tip. A dark shaggy mane hangs from the neck to the chest. With a thick body, short tail and long slender legs, most elk stand approximately 0.75-1.5 m high at the shoulder and are 1.6-2.7 m from nose to tail. Most males are 10 percent larger than females and weigh twice as much.
Elk prefer open woodlands and avoid dense unbroken forests. Elk can be found in coniferous swamps, clear cuts, aspen-hardwood forests, and coniferous-hardwood forests. Elk have a home range of approximately 600 square miles.
Elk tracks are 3.5 - 4.5 in. (9 - 11 cm.) long and less pointed that the similarly-sized moose's. Dew claws are evident in snow, mud, and when running.
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