Question:

Do elk antlers fall off every year?

Answer:

The antlers are shed each year after the autumn mating season, by which time they can attain a spread of 1.5 m (5 ft) or more.

More Info:

Antlers are the usually large, branching bony appendages on the heads of males of most deer species. Antler originally meant the lowest tine or point, the "brow tine". It comes from the Old French antoillier, of uncertain origin, possibly from some form of an unattested Latin word *anteocularis, "before the eye" (and applied to the word for "branch" or "horn"). Antlers are unique to cervids and found mostly on males: only caribou and reindeer have antlers on the females, and these are normally smaller than those of the males. Nevertheless, fertile does from other species of deer have the capacity to produce antlers on occasion, usually due to increased testosterone levels. The pronghorn's "horns" fit some of the criteria of antlers, although are not considered true antlers because they contain keratin. Each antler grows from an attachment point on the skull called a pedicle. While an antler is growing, it is covered with highly vascular skin called velvet, which supplies oxygen and nutrients to the growing bone. Antlers are considered one of the most exaggerated cases of male secondary sexual traits in the animal kingdom, and grow faster than any other mammal bone. Growth occurs at the tip, and is initially cartilage, which is later replaced by bone tissue. Once the antler has achieved its full size, the velvet is lost and the antler's bone dies. This dead bone structure is the mature antler. In most cases, the bone at the base is destroyed by osteoclasts and the antlers fall off at some point. As a result of their fast growth rate, antlers are considered a handicap since there is an incredible nutritional demand on deer to re-grow antlers annually, and thus can be honest signals of metabolic efficiency and food gathering capability. In most arctic and temperate-zone species, antler growth and shedding is annual, and is controlled by the length of daylight. Although the antlers are regrown each year, their size varies with the age of the animal in many species, increasing annually over several years before reaching maximum size. In tropical species, antlers may be shed at any time of year, and in some species such as the sambar, antlers last several years. Some equatorial deer never shed their antlers. Antlers function as weapons in combats between males, which sometimes cause serious wounds, and as dominance and sexual displays. The ancestors of deer had tusks (long upper canine teeth). Antlers appear to replace tusks; two modern species, the musk deer and the water deer, have tusks and no antlers, the muntjac has small tusks and small antlers, and other deer have full-sized antlers and no tusks. The diversification of antlers, body size and tusks has been strongly influenced by changes in habitat and behavior (fighting and mating). Caribou and reindeer use their antlers to clear away snow so they can eat the vegetation underneath. This is one possible reason that females of this species evolved antlers. Another possible reason is for female competition during winter foraging. In moose, antlers appear to act as large hearing aids. Moose with antlers have far more sensitive hearing than moose without, and a study of trophy antlers with an artificial ear confirmed that the antler behaves like a parabolic reflector. The principal means of evolution of antlers is sexual selection, which operates via two mechanisms: Male-male competition (behaviorally, physiologically) and female mate choice. Male-male competition can take place in two forms. First, they can compete behaviorally where males use their antlers as weapons to compete for access to mates; second, they can compete physiologically where males present their antlers to display their strength and fertility competitiveness to compete for access to mates. Males with the largest antlers are more likely to obtain mates and achieve the highest fertilization success due to their competitiveness, dominance and high phenotypic quality. Whether this is a result of male-male fighting or display, or of female choosiness differs depending on the species as the shape, size, and function of antlers vary between species. There is evidence to support that antler size influences mate selection in the red deer, and has a heritable component. Despite this, a 30 year study showed no shift in the median size of antlers in a population of red deer. The lack of response could be explained by environmental covariance, meaning that lifetime breeding success is determined by an unmeasured trait which is phenotypically correlated with antler size but for which there is no genetic correlation of antler growth. Alternatively, the lack of response could be explained by the relationship between heterozygosity and antler size, which states that males heterozygous at multiple loci, including MHC loci, have larger antlers. The evolutionary response of traits that depend on heterozygosity is slower than traits that are dependent on additive genetic components and thus the evolutionary change is slower than expected. A third possibility is that the costs of having larger antlers (resource use, and mobility detriments, for instance) exert enough selective pressure to offset the benefit of attracting mates; thereby stabilizing antler size in the population. Antlered heads are prized as trophies—the bigger, the better. The first organization to keep records of sizes was Rowland Ward Ltd., a London taxidermy firm, in the early 20th century. For a time only total length or spread was recorded. In the middle of the century, the Boone and Crockett Club and the Safari Club International developed complex scoring systems based on various dimensions and the number of tines or points, and they keep extensive records of high-scoring antlers. Hunters have developed terms for antler parts: beam, palm, brow, bez or bay, trez or tray, royal, and surroyal. These are the main shaft, flattened center, first tine, second tine, third tine, fourth tine, and fifth or higher tines, respectively. The second branch is also called an advancer. In Yorkshire in the United Kingdom roe deer hunting is especially popular due to the large antler produced there. This is due to the high levels of chalk in Yorkshire. The chalk is high in calcium which is ingested by the deer and helps growth in the antlers. Gathering shed antlers or "sheds" attracts dedicated practitioners who refer to it colloquially as shed hunting, bone picking or sometimes clinting (a term that originated in Cascade, Idaho, but is now more widely used).][ In the United States, the middle of December to the middle of February is considered shed hunting season, when deer, elk, and moose begin to shed. Sheds often accumulate in one area, and these areas are often kept secret by those who hunt there.][ In the United States sheds fetch $1–$100.][ In the national parks of Canada, the removal of shed antlers is an offense punishable by a maximum fine of $25,000 CAD. Antler has been used since prehistoric times as a material to make tools, weapons, ornaments, and toys. It was an especially important material in the European Late Paleolithic, used by the Magdalenian culture to make carvings and engraved designs on objects such as the so-called Bâton de commandements and the Bison Licking Insect Bite. In later periods antler, used as a cheap substitute for ivory, was a material especially associated with equipment for hunting, such as saddles and horse harness, guns and daggers, powder flasks, as well as buttons and the like. The decorative display of wall-mounted pairs of antlers has been popular since medieval times at least. Antler headdresses were worn by shamans and other spiritual figures in various cultures, and for dances; 21 antler "frontlets" apparently for wearing on the head, and over 10,000 years old, have been excavated at the English Mesolithic site of Starr Carr. Antlers are still worn in traditional dances such as Yaqui deer dances and carried in the Abbots Bromley Horn Dance. From prehistoric times a large deer antler from a suitable species (e.g. red deer) was often cut down to its shaft and its lowest tine and used as a one-pointed pickax. In the velvet stage, antlers of elk and deer have been used in Asia as a dietary supplement or alternative medicinal substance for more than 2,000 years. Ray Lewis and the Alabama Crimson Tide players have allegedly taken deer antler spray (S.W.A.T.) prior to their respective champion games. Both situations are under scrutiny. Irish Elk Moose Caribou Young Red Deer, with velvet Mature red deer White-tailed deer Fallow deer American elk, or wapiti Pudú Red deer antlers at the start of the season Mule deer missing an antler Sambar deer with thick, forked beams for antlers. Yearling bull moose with "starter" antlers Chital  This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: 
Antlers is a city in Pushmataha County, Oklahoma. The population was 2,453 at the 2010 census, a 3.9 percent decline from 2,552 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Pushmataha County.. According to the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, the town was named for a pair of antlers hung on a tree to denote the location of a spring. Antlers is located at (34.230986, −95.620911). According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 2.7 square miles (7.0 km2), all of it land. The historic center of Antlers—not counting its newly expanded city limits—straddles at least two watersheds. Rain falling in the northeast part of town drains into creeks flowing northward directly into the Kiamichi River. This soil is rocky, with bedrock near the surface. Water falling elsewhere in the town drains into creeks draining southward into Beaver Creek, which flows to the Kiamichi River. This soil is sandy. Standpipe Hill—which overlooks downtown Antlers—stands considerably higher, and features picturesque views to the north into the Kiamichi River valley.

The city has two motels and one hotel: Sportsman Inn & Suites, Budget Inn, and Hiway Inn & Suites respectively. There four schools, total: Brantly Elementary (Grades K-3, Vegher Intermediate (Grades 4-5), Obuch Middle School (Grades 6-8), and Antlers High School (9-12). Until 2008, Antlers was home to the only red light in Pushmataha County. Even now, it has the only two traffic signals in the entire county. [This is only partly true. Before 1958 Antlers had two traffic signals. In about 1960 a big truck ran under the light and knocked it down. Instead of replacing the light they just put up a 4-way stop. And now, some 50 years later, Antlers once again has two traffic lights. In 1958 the Lu Lodge Motel and Log Cabin Cafe were located on the southeast corner, Jimmy Maple's Chevrolet dealearship was on the northeast corner, and the Mobil station was on the northwest corner.] Evidence exists of prehistoric activity within the city limits of present-day Antlers. Arrowheads are found periodically at sites throughout the town. Most of the prehistoric sites are atop hills, which the prehistoric inhabitants found the most healthful. Antlers and the rest of the Kiamichi River valley fell within the realm of the American Indian culture based at Spiro Mounds. The Mississippian culture based there controlled a large portion of what is now southeastern Oklahoma and adjacent states. More recently, nomadic Caddo Indians roamed the area. Rarely establishing permanent settlements, they were highly mobile and hunted and fished across the region. The area that is now Antlers was granted to the Choctaw Indians in 1832 by the Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. During the 1880s the St. Louis-San Francisco Railway, more popularly known as the “Frisco", built a north-south line through the Choctaw Nation, connecting Fort Smith, Arkansas with Paris, Texas. The railroad paralleled the Kiamichi River throughout much of its route in present-day Pushmataha County, Oklahoma. Train stations were established every few miles to aid in opening up the land and, more particularly, to serve as the locations of section houses. Supervisors for their respective miles of track lived in the section houses to administer the track and its right-of-way. These stations also served as points at which the trains could draw water. The site of Antlers was selected for a station due to the existence of a freshwater spring. Adjacent stations were established at Davenport — now Kellond, Oklahoma — to the north, and Hamden, Oklahoma to the south. The sparsely populated area, at that time known as Jack’s Fork County of the Choctaw Nation, in the Indian Territory, was home to Choctaw Indians who farmed or subsisted on the land. Few roads or trails existed. Transportation was provided by the Frisco Railroad, which offered six trains per day (three in each direction) until it closed to passenger traffic during the mid 1960's. It continued freight operations until 1981, when it closed altogether and its rails were removed. The loss of passenger rail coincided with the construction of several highways linking Antlers to other communities, including U.S. Highway 271, Oklahoma State Highway 7, and Oklahoma State Highway 2. The southern section of the Indian Nation Turnpike, which has an interchange at Antlers, opened in 1970. Antlers was given its name due to the presence of large antlers, or the horns of bucks, nailed to nearby trees, ostensibly to mark the site of the spring. A United States Post Office was established at Antlers' Indian Territory on August 26, 1887. According to early settler Colonel Victor M. Locke, Jr., a hunter was encamped at the spring at present-day Antlers early one autumn and killed a “magnificent buck.” He nailed its antlers on a tree close to the spring as a challenge to other hunters, who followed suit. Railroad officials later designated their new station stop as “Antlers” in recognition of this prominent local landmark. American settlers from the United States lived in Antlers and surrounding areas at the discretion of the Choctaw government, which afforded the settlers no protections or government services of any kind, and during the 1890s the U.S. government acted to provide a minimal level of support. It established Recording Districts throughout all Five Civilized Tribes of the Indian Territory. Antlers became Record Town of Recording District #24, which covered almost all of present-day Pushmataha, Choctaw and McCurtain counties. American citizens living in this area now had the rudiments of a justice system available. To support the needs of a Record Town, a United States Court was established at Antlers. A large wooden courthouse was built to accommodate the justices, lawyers and courtroom facilities necessary, and Antlers became home to a small government outpost. During the waning days of the Indian Territory the Republican Party was in power in Washington, D.C., so the justices, sheriffs, deputies, and court clerks were all Republican. Local residents, being from former Confederate States, were almost all Democrats. In order to prepare for Oklahoma's statehood, the United States Government surveyed and plotted every town of significance. Antlers was surveyed in 1901 and a townsite of 182 acres (0.74 km2) was mapped. Once the area was included in a state, residents could establish formal ownership of their homes and property. Upon the advent of Oklahoma's statehood on November 16, 1907, the Choctaw Nation and the Indian Territory ceased to exist. Antlers lost its prized status as a United States Court town and the complexion of the town’s population changed as those who worked in the “cottage industry” which had arisen to support the Court left in pursuit of other employment. Antlers’ then served as local resort town, as it is a gateway to the Kiamichi Mountains, and many tourists came to fish, hunt, and relax in the town and nearby mountains. Many came from Paris, Texas. Sustained growth occurred for several decades, until April 12, 1945, when Antlers was devastated by a powerful tornado. Moving southeast to northwest, it destroyed stores and homes in a wide swath, including stores and shops at the south end of High Street. Sixty-seven residents were killed, and over 300 injured. Antlers High School was established as a makeshift morgue to receive bodies. The most significant destruction occurred in the 300 block of East Main Street, where the large and historic St. Agnes Academy for Choctaw Indians was destroyed. Miraculously, only two lives were lost: nuns who were killed by a falling chimney. All of the students survived. U.S. Army troops were dispatched from Camp Maxey, Texas, a World War II-era Army base located between Paris and Arthur City, Texas. The troops assisted with rescue, maintaining law and order, and clearing rubble. Meteorologists have since retroactively categorized the Antlers tornado as an F5 on the Fujita Scale, the most powerful. Local residents believed there were two tornados striking the town, as two funnels were claimed to have been seen. The Antlers tornado funnel measured a half-mile wide at its base, and the two funnel clouds observed locally were within the larger one. The Antlers F5 was so powerful that it could be clearly heard, as well as seen, four miles (6 km) east of town at the Ethel Road crossroads, and as far north as Kosoma. After 1945 the town paralleled the growth experienced by the United States at large. With the advent of universal electrical service most homes came to have air-conditioning, and later almost all had televisions. Social relations changed at this point as individuals and families found their entertainment indoors, rather than outdoors or downtown. The biggest change of the post-war years occurred in 1975, when R.C. Pruett opened East Town Village on the eastern outskirts of Antlers. In doing so, he mirrored a trend seen in almost every town across the country — major retailers relocated from historic downtowns to larger facilities on their outskirts. Pruett’s grocery store was a new one, but within a few years merchants began deserting Antlers’ historic downtown for East Town Village or other locations, or closing altogether. At the same time, Antlers residents began shopping at Wal-Mart, which offered greater variety and lower prices than Antlers' local merchants were able to offer, and to this day many of its customers come from Antlers. In recent years there has been an effort to declare Antlers a “Main Street USA” site. Due to a series of arson and fires beginning in the 1970s, Antlers lost a number of its stores, changing the character of its downtown. The buildings which remain are sturdy brick buildings with antique facades. In recent years merchants have been removing the 1960s-era awnings and other structures returning the buildings to their original states. During recent years the Antlers Frisco Depot and Antlers Spring have been added to the National Register of Historic Places, in recognition of their contribution to the architecture and history of the town. The architecture of the depot, built in 1913 with separate waiting rooms and toilets for white passengers and black passengers, pays homage to an earlier era in which racial inequality and lack of civil rights was institutionalized into the design of public buildings. More information on the history of Antlers may be found at the Pushmataha County Historical Society. As of the census of 2000, there were 2,552 people, 1,068 households, and two families residing in the city. The population density was 931.1 people per square mile (359.6/km²). There were 1,260 housing units at an average density of 459.7 per square mile (177.6/km²). The racial makeup of the city was 78.13% White, 1.84% African American, 14.93% Native American, 0.08% Asian, 0.31% from other races, and 4.70% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 1.76% of the population. There were 1,068 households out of which 30.5% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 41.5% were married couples living together, 17.4% had a female householder with no husband present, and 38.9% were non-families. 35.5% of all households were made up of individuals and 20.5% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.28 and the average family size was 2.96. In the city the population was spread out with 26.7% under the age of 18, 7.5% from 18 to 24, 23.7% from 25 to 44, 19.9% from 45 to 64, and 22.3% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 38 years. For every 100 females there were 78.1 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 72.4 males. The median income for a household in the city was $17,594, and the median income for a family was $22,684. Males had a median income of $23,958 versus $16,688 for females. The per capita income for the city was $11,285. About 28.9% of families and 31.6% of the population were below the poverty line, including 42.7% of those under age 18 and 23.2% of those age 65 or over.
Greater Manchester Antler Luggage is a brand of suitcase. Antler Luggage has been in the luxury travel luggage and holiday luggage business for over 90 years, with the company origins going back even further. The company is based in Bury, North Manchester. Antler luggage currently has among the top technological designs of rollercase luggage. Antler Luggage started out with just a horse and a cart. In 1865, a man by the name of John Boultbee Brooks who was only 19 years old, left home with only £20. With his £20 is his pocket, Brooks bought himself a bicycle. Brooks, along with a few others, worked on a horse and discovered that the wooden saddle used to sit on is extremely uncomfortable. His father made leather saddles for horses so at a very young age, Brooks' father introduced him into the industry. Since he was young, Brooks was able to design and develop comfortable saddles, leather straps, and general leather goods from the leather in his father's workshop. In 1870, Brooks had an innovative idea and crowned the title of adopting the new 'safety bicycle'. During this time the cycling industry was growing, only problem was that the paving on the streets and sidewalk were so terrible that the hard seats on the bicycles made it almost unbearable. Brooks came in to solve this problem where he invented and developed a new type of saddle for bicycles. His invention quickly spread throughout the world and was a success. In 1914, Brooks' son entered the market of manufacturing leather passenger luggage. His son's interest in wildlife helped influence the company name and brand symbol. Stag and Antlers logo was a stag's head with antlers. Hide luggage was made by placing the hide over a wooden frame, usually oak or mahogany, but in the 1930s Stag and Antler invented a new way to make luggage. They developed the first soft top suitcase, unlike any other. During World War II, Antler luggage shifted its focus from personal luggage to sturdy sacks used by soldiers and various military equipment to help in the war effort. However, after the war, Antler Luggage returned to manufacturing their signature luggage. Throughout the 1950s air travel began to boom. People started traveling on planes for work, vacations, and tourism. Antler Luggage took advantage of this great opportunity ahead of them. They began to develop products that would benefit these individuals who were traveling. Antler provided the necessary luggage for all travelers. In 1962, Antler moved locations. They moved from the Midlands to Norther Manchester, where they continue to manufacture still today. Due to high demand for their products, they had to branch out and set up sites in Mossley, Littleboroug and Exeter. Around 1965, Antler luggage was employing approximately 400 workers and they were exporting their products across the world, namely Singapore and Japan. Antler luggage has received tremendous support and approval from a number of companies. British CQ gave a two thumbs up on Antler's Geolite luggage. Green Global Travel rated Antler's hard-shell Liquis carry-on as a favorite.
Ossicones are horn-like (or antler-like) protuberances on the heads of giraffes, male okapis, and their extinct relatives, such as Sivatherium, and the climacoceratids, such as Climacoceras. Only Giraffes have true ossicones (as opposed to horns or antlers). The base that a deer's antlers grow from is very similar to ossicones. Ossicones are similar to the horns of antelopes and cattle, save that they are derived from ossified cartilage, and that the ossicones remain covered in skin and fur, rather than horn. Antlers (such as on deer) are derived from bone tissue: when mature, the skin and fur covering of the antlers, termed "velvet," is sloughed and scraped off to expose the bone of the antlers.
various Cervus elaphus subspecies The elk or wapiti (Cervus canadensis) is one of the largest species of the Cervidae or deer family in the world, and one of the largest land mammals in North America and eastern Asia. It was long believed to be a subspecies of the European red deer (Cervus elaphus), but evidence from a 2004 study of the mitochondrial DNA indicates that the two are distinct species. This animal should not be confused with the larger moose (Alces alces), to which the name "elk" applies in Eurasia. Apart from the moose, the only other member of the deer family to rival the elk in size is the south Asian sambar (Rusa unicolor). Elk range in forest and forest-edge habitat, feeding on grasses, plants, leaves, and bark. Although native to North America and eastern Asia, they have adapted well to countries where they have been introduced, including Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand. Their great adaptability may threaten endemic species and ecosystems into which they have been introduced. 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 which establishes dominance over other males and attracts females. Elk are susceptible to a number of infectious diseases, some of which can be transmitted to livestock. Efforts to eliminate infectious diseases from elk populations, largely through vaccination, have had mixed success. Some cultures revere the elk as a spiritual force. In parts of Asia, antlers and their velvet are used in traditional medicines. Elk are hunted as a game species; the meat is leaner and higher in protein than beef or chicken. Early European explorers in North America, who were familiar with the smaller red deer of Europe, thought that the larger North American animal resembled a moose, and consequently gave it the name elk, which is the common European name for moose. The word elk is related to the Latin alces, Old Norse elgr, Scandinavian elg/älg and German Elch, all of which refer to the animal known in North America as the moose. The name wapiti is from the Shawnee and Cree word waapiti, meaning "white rump". This name is used in particular for the Asian subspecies (Altai wapiti, Tian Shan wapiti, Manchurian wapiti and Alashan wapiti), because in Eurasia the name elk continues to be used for the moose. Asian subspecies are sometimes referred to as the maral, but this name applies primarily to the Caspian red deer (Cervus elaphus maral), a subspecies of red deer. There is a subspecies of elk in Mongolia called the Altai wapiti (Cervus canadensis sibiricus), also known as the Altai maral, Siberian wapiti or Siberian elk.][ (This usage of "Siberian elk" is ambiguous, since the name also refers to Alces alces ssp. cameloides.) Members of the genus Cervus (and hence early relatives or possible ancestors of the elk) first appear in the fossil record 25 million years ago, during the Oligocene in Eurasia, but do not appear in the North American fossil record until the early Miocene. The extinct Irish Elk (Megaloceros) was not a member of the genus Cervus, but rather the largest member of the wider deer family (Cervidae) known from the fossil record. Until recently, red deer and elk were considered to be one species, Cervus elaphus. However, mitochondrial DNA studies, conducted on hundreds of samples in 2004 from red deer and elk subspecies as well as other species of the Cervus deer family, strongly indicate that elk, or wapiti, should be a distinct species, namely Cervus canadensis. The previous classification had over a dozen subspecies under the C. elaphus species designation; DNA evidence concludes that elk are more closely related to Thorold's deer and even sika deer than they are to the red deer. Though elk and red deer can produce fertile offspring in captivity, geographic isolation between the species in the wild and differences in mating behaviors indicate that reproduction between them outside a controlled environment would be unlikely. However, the two species have freely inter-bred in New Zealand's Fiordland National Park, where the cross-bred animals have all but removed the pure elk blood from the area. There are numerous subspecies of elk described, with six from North America and four from Asia, although some taxonomists consider them different ecotypes or races of the same species (adapted to local environments through minor changes in appearance and behavior). Populations vary as to antler shape and size, body size, coloration and mating behavior. DNA investigations of the Eurasian subspecies revealed that phenotypic variation in antlers, mane and rump patch development are based on "climatic-related lifestyle factors". Of the six subspecies of elk known to have inhabited North America in historical times, four remain, including the Roosevelt (C. canadensis roosevelti), Tule (C. canadensis nannodes), Manitoban (C. canadensis manitobensis) and Rocky Mountain (C. canadensis nelsoni). The Eastern elk (C. canadensis canadensis) and Merriam's Elk (C. canadensis merriami) subspecies have been extinct for at least a century. Four subspecies described in Asia include the Altai Wapiti (C. canadensis sibiricus) and the Tianshan Wapiti (C. canadensis songaricus) . Two distinct subspecies found in China and Korea are the Manchurian wapiti (C. canadensis xanthopygus) and the Alashan wapitis (C. canadensis alashanicus). The Manchurian wapiti is darker and more reddish in coloration than the other populations. The Alashan wapiti of north central China is the smallest of all subspecies, has the lightest coloration and is the least studied. Biologist Valerius Geist, who has written on the world's various deer species, holds that there are only three subspecies of elk. Geist recognizes the Manchurian and Alashan wapiti but places all other elk into C. canadensis canadensis, claiming that classification of the four surviving North American groups as subspecies is driven, at least partly, for political purposes to secure individualized conservation and protective measures for each of the surviving populations. Recent DNA studies suggest that there are no more than three or four subspecies of elk. All American forms seem to belong to one subspecies (Cervus canadensis canadensis). Even the Siberian elk (Cervus canadensis sibiricus) are more or less identical to the American forms and therefore may belong to this subspecies, too. However the Manchurian wapiti (Cervus canadensis xanthopygus) is clearly distinct from the Siberian forms, but not distinguishable from the Alashan wapiti. The Chinese forms MacNeill's Deer, Kansu red deer, and Tibetan red deer belong also to the wapitis and were not distinguishable from each other by mitochondrial DNA studies. These Chinese subspecies are sometimes treated as a distinct species, namely the Central Asian Red Deer (Cervus wallichi), which also includes the Kashmir stag. The elk is a large animal of the ungulate order Artiodactyla, possessing an even number of toes on each foot, similar to those of camels, goats and cattle. It is a ruminant species, with a four-chambered stomach, and feeds on grasses, plants, leaves and bark. During the summer, elk eat almost constantly, consuming between 4 and 7 kilograms (8.8 and 15 lb) daily. In North America, males are called bulls, and females are called cows. In Asia, stag and hind, respectively, are sometimes used instead. Elk are more than twice as heavy as mule deer and have a more reddish hue to their hair coloring, as well as large, buff colored rump patches and smaller tails. Moose are larger and darker than elk; bulls have distinctively different antlers. Elk gather in herds, while moose are solitary. Elk cows average 225 to 241 kg (500 to 530 lb), stand 1.3 m (4.3 ft) at the shoulder, and are 2.1 m (6.9 ft) from nose to tail. Bulls are some 40% larger than cows at maturity, weighing an average of 320 to 331 kg (710 to 730 lb), standing 1.5 m (4.9 ft) at the shoulder and averaging 2.45 m (8.0 ft) in length. The largest of the subspecies is the Roosevelt elk (C. c. roosevelti), found west of the Cascade Range in the U.S. states of California, Oregon and Washington, and in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Roosevelt elk have been reintroduced into Alaska, where the largest males are estimated to weigh up to 600 kg (1,300 lb). More typically, male Roosevelt elks weigh around 300 to 544 kg (660 to 1,200 lb), while females weigh 260 to 285 kg (570 to 630 lb). The smallest-bodied race is the Tule elk (C. c. nannodes), which weighs from 170 to 250 kg (370 to 550 lb) in both sexes. Only the males have antlers, which start growing in the spring and are shed each winter. The largest antlers may be 1.2 metres (3.9 ft) long and weigh 18 kilograms (40 lb). Antlers are made of bone which can grow at a rate of 2.5 centimetres (0.98 in) per day. While actively growing, the antlers are covered with and protected by a soft layer of highly vascularised skin known as velvet. The velvet is shed in the summer when the antlers have fully developed. Bull elk may have eight or more tines on each antler; however, the number of tines has little to do with the age or maturity of a particular animal. The Siberian and North American elk carry the largest antlers while the Altai wapiti have the smallest. The formation and retention of antlers is testosterone-driven. After the breeding season in late fall, the level of pheromones released during estrus declines in the environment and the testosterone levels of males drop as a consequence. This drop in testosterone leads to the shedding of antlers, usually in the early winter. During the fall, elk grow a thicker coat of hair, which helps to insulate them during the winter. Males, females and calves of Siberian and North American elk all grow thin neck manes; female and young Manchurian and Alashan wapitis do not. By early summer, the heavy winter coat has been shed, and elk are known to rub against trees and other objects to help remove hair from their bodies. All elk have small and clearly defined rump patches with short tails. They have different coloration based on the seasons and types of habitats, with gray or lighter coloration prevalent in the winter and a more reddish, darker coat in the summer. Subspecies living in arid climates tend to have lighter colored coats than do those living in forests. Most have lighter yellow-brown to orange-brown coats in contrast to dark brown hair on the head, neck, and legs during the summer. Forest-adapted Manchurian and Alashan wapitis have darker reddish-brown coats with less contrast between the body coat and the rest of the body during the summer months. Calves are born spotted, as is common with many deer species, and they lose their spots by the end of summer. Adult Manchurian wapiti may retain a few orange spots on the back of their summer coats until they are older. This characteristic has also been observed in the forest-adapted European red deer. Adult elk usually stay in single-sex groups for most of the year. During the mating period known as the rut, mature bulls compete for the attentions of the cow elk and will try to defend females in their harem. Rival bulls challenge opponents by bellowing and by paralleling each other, walking back and forth. This allows potential combatants to assess the other's antlers, body size and fighting prowess. If neither bull backs down, they engage in antler wrestling, and bulls sometimes sustain serious injuries. Bulls also dig holes in the ground, in which they urinate and roll their body. A male elk's urethra points upward so that urine is sprayed almost at a right angle to the penis. The urine soaks into their hair and gives them a distinct smell which attracts cows. Dominant bulls follow groups of cows during the rut, from August into early winter. A bull will defend his harem of 20 cows or more from competing bulls and predators. Only mature bulls have large harems and breeding success peaks at about eight years of age. Bulls between two to four years and over 11 years of age rarely have harems, and spend most of the rut on the periphery of larger harems. Young and old bulls that do acquire a harem hold it later in the breeding season than do bulls in their prime. A bull with a harem rarely feeds and he may lose up to 20 percent of his body weight. Bulls that enter the rut in poor condition are less likely to make it through to the peak conception period or have the strength to survive the rigors of the oncoming winter. Bulls have a loud vocalization consisting of screams known as bugling, which can be heard for miles. Bugling is often associated with an adaptation to open environments such as parklands, meadows, and savannas, where sound can travel great distances. Females are attracted to the males that bugle more often and have the loudest call. Bugling is most common early and late in the day and is one of the most distinctive sounds in nature, akin to the howl of the gray wolf. Female elk have a short estrus cycle of only a day or two, and matings usually involve a dozen or more attempts. By the autumn of their second year, females can produce one and, very rarely, two offspring, although reproduction is most common when cows weigh at least 200 kilograms (440 lb). The gestation period is 240 to 262 days and the offspring weigh between 15 and 16 kilograms (33 and 35 lb). When the females are near to giving birth, they tend to isolate themselves from the main herd, and will remain isolated until the calf is large enough to escape predators. Calves are born spotted, as is common with many deer species, and they lose their spots by the end of summer. Manchurian wapiti may retain a few orange spots on the back of their summer coats until they are older. After two weeks, calves are able to join the herd, and are fully weaned at two months of age. Elk calves are as large as an adult white-tailed deer by the time they are six months old. The offspring will remain with their mothers for almost a year, leaving about the time that the next season's offspring are produced. The gestation period is the same for all subspecies. 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. Wolf and coyote packs and the solitary cougar are the most likely predators, although brown and black bears also prey on elk. Coyote packs mostly prey on elk calves, though they can sometimes take a winter-weakened adult. In the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem which includes Yellowstone National Park, bears are the most significant predators of calves. Major predators in Asia include the wolf, dhole, brown bear, Siberian tiger, Amur Leopard, and Snow Leopard. Eurasian Lynx and Wild boar sometimes prey on Asian elk calves. Historically, tigers in the Lake Baikal region fed on Manchurian wapiti, and continue to do so in the Amur region. Male elk retain their antlers for more than half the year and are less likely to group with other males when they have antlers. Antlers provide a means of defense, as does a strong front-leg kick, which is performed by either sex if provoked. Once the antlers have been shed, bulls tend to form bachelor groups which allow them to work cooperatively at fending off predators. Herds tend to employ one or more scouts while the remaining members eat and rest. After the rut, females form large herds of up to 50 individuals. Newborn calves are kept close by a series of vocalizations; larger nurseries have an ongoing and constant chatter during the daytime hours. When approached by predators, the largest and most robust females may make a stand, using their front legs to kick at their attackers. Guttural grunts and posturing effectively deter all but the most determined predators. As is true for many species of deer, especially those in mountainous regions, elk migrate into areas of higher altitude in the spring, following the retreating snows, and the opposite direction in the fall. Hunting pressure also impacts migration and movements. During the winter, they favor wooded areas and sheltered valleys for protection from the wind and availability of tree bark to eat. Roosevelt elk are generally non-migratory due to less seasonal variability of food sources. The Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem elk herd numbers over 200,000 individuals and during the spring and fall, they take part in the longest elk migration in the continental U.S. Elk in the southern regions of Yellowstone National Park and in the surrounding National Forests migrate south towards the town of Jackson, Wyoming where they winter for up to six months on the National Elk Refuge. Conservationists there ensure the herd is well fed during the harsh winters. Many of the elk that reside in the northern sections of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem migrate to lower altitudes in Montana, mainly to the north and west. Elk are ruminants and therefore have four-chambered stomachs. Unlike white-tailed deer and moose which are primarily browsers, elk have a similarity to cattle as they are primarily grazers, but like other deer, they also browse. Elk have a tendency to do most of their feeding in the mornings and evenings, seeking sheltered areas in between feedings to digest. Their diets vary somewhat depending on the season with native grasses being a year round supplement, tree bark being consumed in winter and forbs and tree sprouts during the summer. Elk consume an average of 9.1 kilograms (20 lb) of various vegetation daily. Particularly fond of Aspen sprouts which rise in the spring, elk have had some impact on Aspen groves which have been declining in some regions where elk exist. Range and wildlife managers conduct surveys of elk pellet groups to monitor populations and resource use. At least 53 species of protist and animal parasites have been identified in elk. Most of these parasites seldom lead to significant mortality among wild or captive elk. Parelaphostrongylus tenuis (brainworm or meningeal worm) is a parasitic nematode known to affect the spinal cord and brain tissue of elk and other species, leading to death. The definitive host is the white-tailed deer, in which it normally has no ill effects. Snails and slugs, the intermediate hosts, can be inadvertently consumed by elk during grazing. The liver fluke Fascioloides magna and the nematode Dictyocaulus viviparus are also commonly found parasites that can be fatal to elk. Since infection by either of these parasites can be lethal to some commercial livestock species, their presence in elk herds is of some concern. Chronic wasting disease, transmitted by a misfolded protein known as a prion, affects the brain tissue in elk, and has been detected throughout their range in North America. First documented in the late 1960s in mule deer, the disease has affected elk on game farms and in the wild in a number of regions. Elk that have contracted the disease begin to show weight loss, increased watering needs, disorientation and listlessness, and at an advanced stage the disease leads to death. The disease is similar to but not the same as mad cow disease, and no risks to humans have been documented, nor has the disease been demonstrated to pose a threat to domesticated cattle. In 2002, South Korea banned the importation of elk antler velvet due to concerns about chronic wasting disease. The Gram-negative bacterial disease brucellosis occasionally affects elk in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, the only place in the U.S. where the disease is still known to exist. In domesticated cattle, brucellosis causes infertility, abortions and reduced milk production. It is transmitted to humans as undulant fever, producing flu-like symptoms which may last for years. Though bison are more likely to transmit the disease to other animals, elk inadvertently transmitted brucellosis to horses in Wyoming and cattle in Idaho. Researchers are attempting to eradicate the disease through vaccinations and herd management measures, which are expected to be successful. A recent necropsy study of captive elk in Pennsylvania attributed the cause of death in 33 of 65 cases to either gastrointestinal parasites (21 cases, primarily Eimeria sp. and Ostertagia sp.) or bacterial infections (12 cases, mostly pneumonia). Modern subspecies are descended from elk that once inhabited Beringia, a steppe region between Asia and North America that connected the two continents during the Pleistocene. Beringia provided a migratory route for numerous mammal species, including brown bear, caribou, and moose, as well as humans. As the Pleistocene came to an end, ocean levels began to rise; elk migrated southwards into Asia and North America. In North America they adapted to almost all ecosystems except for tundra, true deserts, and the gulf coast of the U.S. The elk of southern Siberia and central Asia were once more widespread but today are restricted to the mountain ranges west of Lake Baikal including the Sayan and Altai Mountains of Mongolia and the Tianshan region that borders Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, and China's Xinjiang Province. The habitat of Siberian elk in Asia is similar to that of the Rocky Mountain subspecies in North America. Throughout their range, they live in forest and in forest edge habitat, similar to other deer species. In mountainous regions, they often dwell at higher elevations in summer, migrating down slope for winter. The highly adaptable elk also inhabit semi-deserts in North America, such as the Great Basin. Manchurian and Alashan wapiti are primarily forest dwellers and their smaller antler sizes is a likely adaptation to a forest environment. The Rocky Mountain elk subspecies has been reintroduced by hunter-conservation organizations in the Appalachian region of the eastern U.S., where the now extinct Eastern elk once lived After elk were reintroduced in the states of Kentucky, North Carolina and Tennessee, they migrated into the neighboring states of Virginia and West Virginia, and have established permanent populations there. Elk have also been reintroduced to a number of other states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Etolin and Afognak Islands in Alaska. As of 1989, population figures for the Rocky Mountain subspecies were 782,500, and estimated numbers for all North American subspecies exceeded 1 million. Prior to the European colonization of North America, there were an estimated 10 million elk on the continent. Outside their native habitat, elk and other deer species, especially white tails were introduced in areas that previously had few if any large native ungulates. Brought to these countries for hunting and ranching for meat, hides and antler velvet, they have proven highly adaptable and have often had an adverse impact on local ecosystems. Elk and red deer were introduced to Argentina in the early 20th century. There they are now considered an invasive species, encroaching on Argentinian ecosystems where they compete for food with the indigenous Chilean Huemul and other herbivores. This negative impact on native animal species has led the IUCN to identify the elk as one of the world's 100 worst invaders. Both elk and red deer have also been introduced into Australia. The introduction of deer to New Zealand began in the middle of the 19th century, and current populations are primarily European red deer, with only 15 percent being elk. There is significant hybridization of elk with the more numerous red deer to the extent that pure elk may no longer exist in the wild in New Zealand. These deer have had an adverse impact on forest regeneration of some plant species, as they consume more palatable species which are replaced with those that are less favored by the elk. The long term impact will be an alteration of the types of plants and trees found, and in other animal and plant species dependent upon them. As in Chile and Argentina, the IUCN has declared that red deer and elk populations in New Zealand are an invasive species. Elk have played an important role in the cultural history of a number of peoples. Pictograms and petroglyphs of elk were carved into cliffs thousands of years ago by the Anasazi of the southwestern U.S. More recent Native American tribes, including the Kootenai, Cree, Blackfeet, Ojibwa and Pawnee, produced blankets and robes from elk hides. The elk was of particular importance to the Lakota, and played a spiritual role in their society. At birth, Lakota males were given an elk's tooth to promote a long life since that was seen as the last part of dead elk to rot away. The elk was seen as having strong sexual potency and young Lakota males who had dreamed of elk would have an image of the mythical representation of the elk on their "courting coats" as a sign of sexual prowess. The Lakota believed that the mythical or spiritual elk, not the physical one, was the teacher of men and the embodiment of strength, sexual prowess and courage. Neolithic petroglyphs from Asia depict antler-less female elk, which have been interpreted as symbolizing rebirth and sustenance. By the beginning of the Bronze Age, the elk is depicted less frequently in rock art, coinciding with a cultural transformation away from hunting. The Rocky Mountain Elk is the official state animal for Utah. An image of an elk and a moose appear on the state flag of Michigan. The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (B.P.O.E.) chose the elk as its namesake because a number of its attributes seemed appropriate for cultivation by members of the fraternity. A representation of the majestic head of the male, with its spreading antlers, was adopted as the first badge of the Order; and is still the most conspicuous element of its copyrighted fraternal emblem. A prized possession of many members of the B.P.O.E. are jewel encrusted, gold mounted elk teeth – which are actually ivory. Although breakdown figures for each game species are not available in the 2006 National Survey from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, hunting of wild elk is most likely the primary economic impact. Elk are held in captivity, or farmed, for hunting, meat production and velvet collection. In what is known as a canned hunt, a hunter pays a fee for an essentially guaranteed chance to shoot an elk in an escape-proof range. While elk are not generally harvested for meat production on a large scale, some restaurants offer the meat as a specialty item and it is also available in some grocery stores. The meat has a taste somewhere between beef and venison and is higher in protein and lower in fat and cholesterol than beef, pork, and chicken. Elk meat is also a good source of iron, phosphorus and zinc. A male elk can produce 10 to 11 kilograms (22 to 24 lb) of antler velvet annually and on ranches in the United States, Canada and New Zealand, this velvet is collected and sold to markets in East Asia, where it is used in medicine. Velvet is also considered by some cultures to be an aphrodisiac. However, consuming velvet from elk in North America may be risky since velvet from animals infected with chronic wasting disease may contain prions that could result in a human getting variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Antlers are also used in artwork, furniture and other novelty items. All Asian subspecies, along with other deer, have been raised for their antlers in central and eastern Asia by Han Chinese, Turkic peoples, Tungusic peoples, Mongolians, and Koreans. Elk farms are relatively common in North America and New Zealand. Elk hides have been used for thousands of years for tepee covering, blankets, clothing and footwear. Modern uses are more decorative, but elk skin shoes, gloves and belts are not uncommon. Since 1967, the Boy Scouts of America have assisted employees at the National Elk Refuge in Wyoming by collecting the antlers which are shed each winter. The antlers are then auctioned with 80% of the proceeds returned to the refuge. In 2010, 2,520 kilograms (5,600 lb) of antlers were auctioned, bringing in over $46,000.
The rut is the mating season of ruminant animals such as deer, sheep, elk, moose, caribou, ibex, goats, pronghorn and Asian and African antelope. During the rut (also known as the rutting period, and in sheep sometimes as tupping), males often rub their antlers or horns on trees or shrubs, fight with each other, wallow in mud or dust, and herd estrus females together. The rut in many species is triggered by a shortening of the length of daylight hours each day. The timing of the rut for different species depends on the length of their gestation period (length of pregnancy), usually occurring so the young are born in the spring, shortly after new green growth has appeared (which provides food for the females, allowing them to provide milk for the young), and when the temperatures are warm enough that the young will not die of hypothermia. The rut for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) usually lasts from 1–3 months in the Northern Hemisphere and may occur most of the year in tropical zones. The rut is the time when white-tailed deer, especially bucks, are more active and less cautious than usual. This makes them easier to hunt, as well as more susceptible to being hit by motor vehicles. The buck has one thing on his mind at this time of the year: to find as many does as he can. He will chase after many does for weeks, barely eating. The rut can take its toll on the bucks; they are usually quite worn out by the end of the breeding season. Some people][ believe that the white-tailed deer rut is also controlled by the lunar phase and that the rut peaks seven days after the second full moon (the rutting moon) after the autumnal equinox on 21 September. However, study of white-tailed doe conception dates conducted in Minnesota between 1980 and 1987 showed no correlation between peak breeding dates of white-tailed deer and any lunar phase. A white-tail doe may be in estrus for up to 72 hours, and may come into estrus up to seven times if she does not mate. Cow elk may come into estrus up to four or more times if they do not mate. The rut can start as early as the end of September, and can last all the way through the winter months. Bucks usually begin to start this process when the velvet is falling off their antlers, and it can can last all the way until they start to shed their antlers. The peak of the rut, however, is right in the middle. The average peak day for the white-tail rut in the U.S. is November 13. Around this period of time, the bucks and does are very active, with the rut in full swing. For a hunter sitting in a tree stand at this time of the year, it is not uncommon to see many deer pass through your specific area, due to other deer chasing others. The rut is definitely a busy time for the white-tailed deer. There are many behaviors a buck will do during the rut. During pre-rut, bucks will spar with each other. Sparring is low-intensity aggressive behavior, involving mostly pushing and shoving. Bucks of different sizes will do this to each other. After pre-rut is finished, a buck will rub his antlers on a tree (thus making a “rub”), and also make scrapes on the ground with his hooves; both of these are ways a buck will mark his territory and proclaim his dominance for other bucks to see. These activities are usually done at night. The most prominent behavior of all during the heat of the rut is fighting, where bucks show their true dominance to others. In fighting, bucks usually battle against similar sized deer, and small bucks do not normally challenge mature large ones; more often than not, smaller bucks fear the more mature bucks and leave or avoid the dominant deer’s territory. The fights can go on and on, with the winner getting the group of does. Some fights go on until death, and if not, it is not unusual to see one of them get injured. With all the chasing and fighting during the breeding season, a buck can lose an immense amount of weight, some research showing losses of 20% of body weight. On average, a buck before breeding season can weigh up to 180 pounds (82 kg). After he has gone through the stages of rut, he can lose about 50 pounds (23 kg) of weight, which is quite large, especially for only a few months of time. In the post-rut, a buck will need to replenish his body and catch up on the weight and energy he has lost. Sources][ have said that after the rut, a buck will go to a bedding spot and will remain “motionless” for a large amount of time, even to the extent of about two days, as he is thoroughly exhausted. After he has rested, he will get up and start to feed extensively, trying to catch up on all the needed nutrients his body requires. Croplands have much high carbohydrate grain in them, and a buck can be found here often, eating and getting nutrients. When the climate is extremely cold, a buck will sometimes resort to swamps and bogs, because of the warmer temperatures these areas hold. The elk rut takes place between the middle of August and the middle of October, depending on the climate in which they live. The elk rut occurs around the same time of year throughout the United States. For example the peak rut in Idaho occurs between September 20 and 25, while the peak rut in New Mexico occurs around September 14. The rut tends to last somewhere between 20 and 45 days. This varies on latitude, for in southern areas spring arrives earlier and fall arrives later giving elk a longer calving season, therefore the rut lasts longer. During the rut elk frequently use areas around fresh water, and tend to bed in heavy timber five to six hours per day.:579 A cow elk will remain in estrus for 12 to 15 hours, if they are not bred during this time frame they will normally have another estrus cycle 18 to 28 days later. Elk use several different vocalizations during the rut. Some are made only by a certain sex or age class, and each is used for a different reason. The first of which being the cohesion call which is made by both sexes of elk, and is used to locate one another.:225 An alarm squeal is made by both sexes of elk when they are on alert, during the rut these are used frequently by young bulls being run off by the herd bull.:228 Satellite bulls frequently spar with one another during the rut, and in turn make sparring squeaks.:228 A bugle is a vocalization made exclusively by bulls. A bugle can be directed toward other bulls or toward cows. A bull will direct his bugle toward his cows while gathering them or while chasing an estrus cow. A herd bull will direct his bugle toward another bull to express his dominance over the herd, while a satellite bull may use his bugle to challenge the herd bull.:229 Yelping also known as “grunting” is usually only made by herd bulls when they are excited. They are made more often while interacting with cows than with other bulls. “Yelping commonly was accompanied by contractions of the penile region with simultaneous emission of short spurts of urine.”:230 The rut has five phases: the pre-rut, the first breeding phase, the first rest phase, the second breeding phase, the second rest phase, and the third breeding phase. The pre-rut takes place from mid-August through the beginning of September. During the pre-rut bulls begin bugling and gathering their herds. Bulls will bugle to attract cows as well as to express dominance over other bulls. A “herd” bull is the dominant bull in a herd. Younger, smaller bulls are known as satellite bulls, as they tend to cling to the edges of a herd trying to pick up any cows willing to leave the herd. Larger satellite bulls will challenge the herd bull to try and take control of the herd. These challenges include a good deal of bugling as well as fighting. The first breeding phase of the rut takes place between the beginning and the middle of September. This is when the three year and older cows come into estrus. During this time herd bulls bugle to keep their cows close by, they also answer the bugles of satellite bulls to let them know they are still dominant. A herd bull will also bugle while approaching a cow in estrus so the cows become familiar with his bugles. The first rest phase of the rut occurs between the middle and the end of September. At this time the older cows are predominantly out of estrus and the younger cows have not yet come into estrus. During the rest period satellite bulls will try to join the herd while the herd bull is resting. The second breeding phase of the rut takes place three to four weeks after the first breeding phase. This is due to younger cows coming into estrus, as well as older cows that were not breed on their first estrus cycle coming back into estrus. Herd bulls are less aggressive towards satellite bulls at this phase in the rut due to exhaustion. The second phase of the rut may have the most bugling activity due to the combination of the testosterone levels of the younger bulls rising, and the herd bull still trying to maintain control of the herd. The second rest phase of the rut occurs around the middle of October. By this time the original herd bull usually does not have control of the herd, due to a great decline in physical condition. Terry Bowyer states, “Elk were observed feeding in the following percentages of observations: master bulls 24%; bachelor bulls 53%; yearling males 62%; cows 64%; and calves 62%” (Bowyer uses the terms “master bulls” and “bachelor bulls” which have the same meaning as “herd bulls” and “satellite bulls”).:577 Herd bulls do not have time to feed during the rut due to constantly fighting other bulls as well as chasing and breeding cows. Occasionally a third breeding phase will occur. This will usually take place around the end of October or early November. This is a result of yearling cows coming into estrus for the first time or two year old cows coming into a second estrus cycle. Since most of the herd bulls have left the herd by this time of year, the breeding is usually done by the younger satellite bulls. After this phase the rut is over, most bulls will leave the cows and form bachelor herds to spend the winter with; however young bulls will usually remain with the cows throughout the winter.
Velvet antler refers to the whole cartilaginous antler in a precalcified stage, rather than the velvety "skin" on growing antlers. It is an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine. Deer velvet antler can be divided into sections, each of which are used for different medical purposes in traditional Chinese medicine. The upper section, called a wax piece, is used as a growth tonic for children. The middle section, called a blood piece, is used to treat adults with arthritis and related disorders. The bottom section, called a bone piece, is used for calcium deficiency and geriatric therapies. The tip is the most expensive and sought-after part of the antler. Moose, elk and deer produce new antlers yearly (primarily males, except in caribou/reindeer). The stags are not harmed or killed for the velvet antler. In some countries, such as Australia and New Zealand, deer are subject to local anesthesia and restrained during antler removal, and the procedure is supervised by licensed veterinarians. Typically, the antler is cut off near the base after it is about two-thirds of its potential full size, between 55 to 65 days of growth, before any significant calcification occurs. The procedure is generally done around June in the Northern Hemisphere and December in the Southern Hemisphere. Exceptionally large elk antlers can weigh 50 lb (22.6 kg) for a pair. These grow rapidly from about March or April until July (again, Northern Hemisphere). Most of the world's supply of velvet antler comes from red deer and elk or wapiti, including a large deer farming industry in New Zealand. New Zealand is the world’s largest producer of deer velvet antler, making 450 tons of deer velvet antler per year China produces 400 tons annually. Russia produces 80 tons annually. United States and Canada each produce 20 tons annually. Due to the size and quality of Canadian and American elk antlers, they have been a preferred source of velvet for Canada and the United States (the other countries primarily produce deer velvet antler from deer). Traditionally, in Asia, the antler is dried and sold as slices. These slices are then boiled in water, usually with other herbs and ingredients, and consumed as tea. In the West, antler is dried and powdered, and consumed in capsule form as a dietary supplement.
Antler Hunting Elk

An antler is the large horn-like appendage of deer or related species.

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