ELK

This is the biggest representative of Cervidae species. The weight of male species is 500-600 kilos, the height at the shoulder is up to 2 meters. The usual weight of the Yenisei elks is 200-300 kilos; the females are smaller. The males have large spade-type antlers of 180 cm in length and 20-30 kilos in weight. The elk mews its horns every year in November-December and stays hornless until April-May.

The she-deer are hornless. There are two subspecies in Siberia: the European elk which is smaller in size (in the west) and the big Eastern Siberian elk (in the east). The newborn fawn weighs 13-16 kilos. The voice of the male species during breeding period resembles a hoarse stridulous roar. The elks are good swimmers but sometimes they die in the water after having slumped under ice, especially in autumn. The most dangerous predators are bears and wolves. Occasionally elks are attacked by wolverines; it happens when there is a snow crust which makes it hard for the elk to run away and defend himself.

The elks feed on wood, shrubby and grassland vegetation as well as moss and mushrooms. In the summer they eat leaves, water plants and tall grass at burnt and wood-cutting areas (rose bay and dock). In the late summer elks find pileate fungi and branches of blueberry and cowberry. In September they start to eat sprouts and branches of trees and shrubs shifting to sprout diet by November.

The main winter food is willow, pine, aspen, rowan, raspberry, birch and buckthorn. During thaw period the elks eat aspen bark which contains up to 4 percent of fat in the spring time. The total daily amount of food is: in the summer – approximately 35 kilos, in the winter – 12-15 kilos which makes up about 7 tons of food a year. A numerous population of elks can seriously damage forest tree nurseries. The elks like to visit alkaline soil areas; they even lick the salt on the highways.

The breeding period is September-first half of October. The fawning (1-2 fawns) takes place in May-early June. Starting from the third day the young elk is capable to walk easily; the fifth day – it is hard to catch up with it; and it moves in his mother’s pace on the tenth day. Lactation period is 3.5-4 months. The elk gains 120-130 kilos of weight in 6 months, daily weight gain amounts up to 2 kilos. The males keep gaining weight for 10 years, the female species – 4-5 years. The change of coat happens in the spring.