The elk, or wapiti (Cervus canadensis), is one of the largest species within the deer family, Cervidae, in the world, and one of the largest land mammals in North America.
Elk range in forest and forest-edge habitat, feeding on grasses, plants, leaves, and bark. Male elk have large antlers which are shed each year. Males also engage in ritualized mating behaviors during the rut, including posturing, antler wrestling (sparring), and bugling, a loud series of vocalizations that establishes dominance over other males and attracts females.
Only the males have antlers, which start growing in the spring and are shed each winter.
Elk live 20 years or more in captivity but average 10 to 13 years in the wild. In some subspecies that suffer less predation, they may live an average of 15 years in the wild.