Elk are one of the largest members of the deer family, second only to moose. Each year male elk grow and shed a new set of antlers. As the antlers grow in the spring, they are covered by a thick soft coating filled with blood vessels called velvet. In the fall, they rub the velvet off, revealing the hardened bone underneath. The males (bulls) use their antlers to compete for breeding rights with the females (cows).
Elk usually give birth to a single calf in late May-early June. In their early days, mom will bed the baby down and leave them hidden while they go graze. Well-meaning humans often stumble upon the hidden baby, think they are abandoned, and intervene. Usually, mom is nearby just waiting for the humans to leave. Once imprinted on humans, young elk are difficult to re-release in the wild. Remember, if you care, leave it there!
Did You Know?
The breeding season, or rut, usually occurs in September and October. During this time, you can often hear bull elk bugling. They make this long high pitched sound to communicate with other elk nearby.