C. e. canadensis - Eastern Elk, extinct C. e. roosevelti - Roosevelt Elk C. e. nannodes - Tule Elk C. e. nelsoni - Rocky Mountain Elk C. e. merriami - Merriam Elk, extinct C. e. manitobensis - Manitoban Elk
Wapiti (Cervus elaphus), known as Elk in North America, are the second largest deer (cervid) in the world, second only to moose (which, confusingly, are called elk in Europe; see Elk). Wapiti is the Shawnee name for this animal. Wapiti are a subspecies of the European red deer.
One of the largest North American game animals, they live in open forest and near forest edges in similar environment as deer. In mountain regions, they are known for living in rugged high elevations during the summer, and in winter they gather in lower areas with more shelter. Wapiti weigh 230 to 450 kg and stand 0.75-1.5 m high at the shoulder. Their antlers usually measure 1 -1.5 m across tip to tip. Males often weigh twice as much as females. Wapiti are known for their loud bugling during the rut.
Formerly widespread through Siberia and North America, in taiga, temperate forests and grassland, wapiti (elk) are found throughout North America, especially in Rocky Mountain region. Western wapiti have been brought to several states east of the Mississippi River including the Appalachian area where the now extinct subspecies Eastern Elk Cervus elaphus canadensis once lived.
The current elk population is estimated to be about one-tenth of the historic level. The population along with most other North American game animals reached a low point around 1900. However populations have rebounded with controls on hunting. There were estimated to be 782,500 elk in North America in 1989. About 72,000 then lived in Canada. Some 20,000 are in elk ranches where elk are raised for meat, antlers or for hunting. Most elk live in the west, especially the Rocky Mountain region. Only 3,500 elk live in the wild in the US east of Mississippi and that population is spread over 7 states. The population is similarly small in eastern Canada.
In 1932, the herd was given permanent protection in a 950-acre property, now known as Tule Elk State Reserve, near Buttonwillow in central California's Kern County. Tule elk also inhabit adjacent areas of mainly private land. They are smaller than other subspecies, with bulls averaging 500 pounds. The current population is about 2000 animals. Hunting on private land has been reopened in recent years, however there are a very limited number or permits (40?) available for both resident and nonresident hunters. Hunt costs are around $13,000 through the services of an outfitter. The world record non-typical scores 340.