Here we are at the elk enclosure at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center.
Elk are the only animal that we have at wildlife center that are non-native to the state of Alaska.
Elk were originally brought up in the 1920’s as a herdable & ranchable animal. Our re-introductory efforts took place in the 1950’s, and were largely unsuccessful on the main land of Alaska. However, we do have wild populations of elk on Raspberry and Afognak Island, and some of the surrounding islands in the Aleutian chain.
Again, not native to the state of Alaska, we brought up Roosevelt and Rocky Mountain Elk from the Pacific Northwestern United States.
One distinguishing feature of elk is their extreme antler growth. Males will shed antlers every single year and simply regrow them the following spring. The size of the antlers is not the product of one’s age, but the amount of testosterone in the male’s body.
Males will have their largest rack of antler typically between the ages of five and eight when the testosterone is at the highest point in its body. In the early portion of the season, the elk antlers will be enabled by a thin layer of skin that grows on their antlers, also known as velvet. It’s with the help of this velvet that brings the amount of blood and nutrients to this bone enabling it to grow at such an incredible pace.
Early portions of the summer season will experience the most rapid growth on antlers for the elk, as elk antlers can typically grow up to an inch and a half in a single day.