Friends of the Prairie Learning Center - Neal Smith National Wildlife Refuge
 
Elk at Refuge
Elk at the Refuge:
Elk have a coat of deep copper brown to light tan, depending on the season
Their legs and neck are often darker than their body, with a light beige rump
Newborn calves weigh about 35 lbs, the cow - 500 lbs., and the bull - 700 lbs.
Bulls measure 8 feet from nose to tail
U.S. elk population is 1 million
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Antlers are fast-growing bone that male elk shed every spring
Testosterone is the hormone that holds the antlers secure
Every October, the testosterone level of the male begins to drop, until early spring when the antlers snap off
While new antlers are growing, a soft covering called velvet protects the antlers and carries blood to the growing bone tissue
 
Elk at the Refuge
Antlers grow from bony bumps on the elk skull called pedicles ( bones shaped like cups and covered with skin)
An antler can grow up to 1 inch a day during the summer
Antlers are often branched, but the number of points does not signify age
Teeth are a better gauge to an elk's age than antler size
Elk eat grasses, tree limbs and bark, and low-growing, soft-stemmed plants
Herds eat and watch for predators at the same time - at least one animal is looking up while others are eating
Elk's eyes are designed to detect movement over long distances & they have a superb sense of smell
Their big ears can twist forward and back to capture faint rustling& movement
 
Elk at Refuge
 
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email:  buffalo@tallgrass.org