Elk

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The elk (Cervus canadensis), or wapiti is a large ruminating ungulate from the deer family.  The name "wapiti" is a shortening of the Cree and Shawnee word meaning "white rump".  While not quite as large as the moose (which is referred to as an elk in Europe), the elk is still one of the largest deer subspecies, and one of the largest land animals in North America.

 

Elk prefer forest fringe much like their cousin the whitetail.  Their habitat ranges from most of northern North America and north-eastern Asia, though they have been introduced with success to many places including Australia.  Elk browse for grasses, bark, and other soft plants, as is character for most deer species.  Elk fatten up over the summer by eating almost constantly.  During this time, they will eat up to 16 lbs of vegetation every day.  Elk are also quite susceptible to diseases that can spread to deer and livestock.  Vaccination efforts have been made, but have yielded little in the way of results globally. 

 

Elk also have rutting and estrous cycles much like whitetail. They can grow up to approximately 1300 lbs., and will use their massive 4 foot long antlers to fight for dominance and the right to mate.  The elk is seen as a spiritual animal in some cultures, and their antler velvet is even sought as a medicine in Asia.  Elk meat is also heavily sought for its high protein content.