Elk

Elk.

Name

  • Common name: Elk
  • Scientific name: Cervus canadensis
  • Order: Artiodactyla
  • Family: Cervidae

Also known as

Wapiti

Viewing opportunities

  • Elk have generally remained in the triangular area between Whitehorse, Carmacks and Haines Junction. They are commonly seen along the Alaska and Klondike highways, west and north of Whitehorse.
  • Visit the Stoney Creek area on the Alaska Highway or the Fox Lake Fire rest area on the Klondike highway on a mid-September evening and listen for the distinctive bugle of a bull Elk.

Description

  • A large deer with a light brown coat.
  • Head, neck and legs are darker brown than rest of body with a prominent cream coloured rump.
  • Small hump between shoulder blades.
  • Antlers are a long singular branch sweeping back, with tines coming at regular intervals.

Fast Facts

  • Height: 1.3 metres
  • Weight: Males are 353 kg and females are 245 kg
  • Lifespan: 12 to 24 years. Cows tend to live longer than bulls
  • Predators: Wolves, bears, humans
  • Habitat: Diverse, forest, aspen parklands and grasslands

Yukon population estimate

300

Behaviour

Elk move up onto south facing slopes in the spring following the retreating snows to feed on emerging green vegetation. As the snow accumulates in autumn they move into the forested areas where they are protected from the wind and snow. Outside the rut period, females and young adults remain in herds while males disperse into small groups.

Diet

Diverse sedges and grasses, leaves and shrubby browse.

Conservation status

What is conservation status?

  • Yukon: SU (Unrankable)
  • Global: G5 (Secure)

Distribution

Elk distribution map.

Sights and sounds

env-elk-audio.mp3

Males make a high pitched bugling call during the rut. Females respond with squeaks and whistles.

Elk track, hind.
Elk track, hind: 10.6 x 7.3 cm

Elk antler rub.
Antler rub.

Elk scat.
Oval pellets about 1-1.5 cm in diameter.

Elk and people

  • In 1951, 19 Elk were transferred from Elk Island National Park to Braeburn Lake and in 1954 another 30 were released. This was done to provide Elk for new hunting opportunities to reduce pressure on other big game.
  • The Government of Yukon released another 119 animals near Braeburn Lake, Hutshi Lakes and the Takhini River valley between 1989 and 1994 to supplement persisting but stagnant Elk populations.

Management plan

Download the Management Plan for Elk in Yukon.