Utah State Animal - Rocky Mountain Elk
The Rocky Mountain elk, Cervus canadensis, became the official state animal in 1971 (Utah Code).
Sometimes called wapiti by the Shawnee Indians and the scientists of later times, the American Elk was first named by early English colonists. They were once found over most of the United States and southern Canada, but hunters have killed so many of them that they survive only in regions west of the Rocky Mountains. The largest herds live in Yellowstone Park, on Montana's Sun River, and in Washington's Olympic Mountains. They are also plentiful on most mountain ranges in Utah.
A member of the deer family, the elk lives in close association with the deer and moose throughout much of Utah. Only the male elk carry antlers. They can spread more than 5 feet. Antlers grow during the summer and are shed in the late winter. The cows (female elk) are smaller than the male and do not have antlers. Mature bulls stand up to 60 inches at the shoulder and may weigh over 700 pounds.
They usually eat the grasses. They also eat the twigs and needles of fir, juniper, and trees and shrubs during a harsh winter.
Wolves and cougars are among the natural enemies of elk, as well as bear and coyotes that look for calves and sick animals.
- Elk (Utah Conservation Data Center, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)
- Elk Photo Gallery (Utah Wildlife Photo Gallery, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)
- Elk Publications (Utah Government Publications Online Digital Library)
- Elk Bugle & Information (Western Soundscape Archive, Marriott Library, University of Utah)
- Hardware Ranch Wildlife Management Area (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)
- Rocky Mountain Elk Fact Sheet (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)
- Utah Elk Statewide Management Plan (Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)
Learn more about Elk
- Elk: Exploring Elk Habits & Habitats (Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)
- Elk: Kids' Corner (Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation)
- National Elk Refuge (U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)
- Wild About Elk: Educator Guide (Project WILD)