Elk, also called "red deer" or "wapiti," are among the largest members of the deer family. They can grow to be 5 feet high at the shoulder and weigh up to 1,100 pounds. Once common throughout the Northern Hemisphere, over-hunting and habitat destruction have decimated their numbers.
Elk habitats include open woodlands, coniferous swamps and forest clearings. Elk are, for the most part, completely herbivorous, although individual elk have been known to eat bird nestlings. Elk often migrate to higher mountain altitudes to graze during the summer and back into the valleys where food is more accessible during the winter.
Males and female elk typically form their own separate groups, except during breeding season, when individual males collect a group up to 20 females into a harem. As with many other deer species, male elk engage in sometimes violent battles to control a harem; those with bigger antlers often claim the victory. Female elk usually give birth during the summer to one calf each. The calf is usually able to walk within less than an hour after birth.
Elk are large enough to have few natural predators; however, wolves and mountain lions regularly hunt them down. Calves are target menu items for smaller predators such as coyotes and bobcats.