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Are Elk In the United States?

Posted by Jennifer Smith on

Elk, also known as wapiti, are members of the cervid [deer] family derived from the Native American term meaning "light-colored deer." There are many different types of elk that stand between 4 feet and 9 feet tall and weigh up to 1400 pounds!

While tourists in Canada often sight elk, the United States boasts over 1 million elk roaming throughout wilderness areas. Oregon has the fifth largest state elk population, with approximately 125,000 elk. 

The most popular areas for elk spotting in the United States include:

  • Pennsylvania
  • Arizona
  • Washington
  • New Mexico
  • Wyoming
  • Montana
  • Idaho
  • Oregon
  • Utah
  • Colorado

Elk are herbivores; and as herbivores, elk only eat vegetation. In spring and summer when food is plentiful, elk are mainly grazers; but during fall and winter, elk continue to eat grasses when these are available and not covered by deep snow. 

Growers looking to rid elk from landscapes will need to invest in elk fencing - the most effective means for reducing the number of elk around growing sites. Like their cousins, the white-tailed deer, elk herds search for food in the early morning and evening hours to avoid being seen by landowners. If home growers are not careful, they will find that all of their plants have been eaten by elk.