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Grand Canyon Nat Park: Elk Browsing in Fall: 0010

Elk (Cervus elaphus) are frequently seen in and around Grand Canyon Village on the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Bull elk grow antlers annually from the time they are nearly one year old. When mature, a bull’s "rack" may have 6 to 8 points or tines on each side and weigh more than 30 pounds. The antlers are usually shed in March or April, and begin regrowing in May, when the bony growth is nourished by blood vessels and covered by furry-looking "velvet." Antler growth ceases each year by August, when the velvet dries up and bulls begin to scrape it off by rubbing against trees, in preparation for the autumn mating season or rut.


A bull may gather 10-30 cows into his harem during the mating season, often clashing or locking antlers with another mature male for the privilege of dominating the herd group. By November, mating season ends. Calves weighing 25-40 pounds are born in late May or early June. NPS photo by Michael Quinn.


Never approach wild animals. Photograph all wildlife from the safety of your vehicle. Use telephoto lenses and observe quietly. It is dangerous, and illegal, to feed wild animals in a national park. Violators will be fined. Wildlife can become dependent upon handouts and lose their ability to hunt and forage. Such animals lose their fear of humans. They can become aggressive and bite, kick, or gore. Many are struck by cars while searching for handouts. Help us keep wildlife wild. Never feed or approach wildlife.


Read more about keeping wildlife wild.

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Taken on October 8, 2011