Of the four subspecies of elk found in North America, two reside in British Columbia. Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus canadensis nelsoni) are most numberous in the east and west Kootenays and spread as far as the Liard River area in the northern part of the province as as far east as the Thompson region. Rocky Mountain elk have the largest antlers of the 4 North American subspecies.
Elk have a golden brown coat during the summer and a longer, grayish brown coat during the winter. Their legs, head and neck remain dark brown year round. Mature bull elk have rich brown antlers with ivory tips and long cylindrical beams that sweep upward and back. Bull elk will rarely have more than 6 points and will shed their racks in March.
A Rocky Mountain elk’s diet primarily consists of sedge, grass and ferns, but is supplemented by willows, elderberry, cedar and hemlock. In the winter, elk ranges are most commonly found in open forests, grassy bench lands or floodplain marshes. In May and June, these elk migrate to subalpine and alpine basins that support lush vegetation. At maturity, a cow will weigh about 500 lbs and a bull will weigh about 700 lbs. Elk meat is leaner and higher in protein than both chicken and beef.
Photo Credit: Ironman100