Montana Elk

Montana elk are the same species found throughout North America and eastern Asia—the Cervus Canadensis, also called the wapiti. This is one of the largest species of deer in the world. The moose, which is called an elk in Europe, is the largest. Elk have also been introduced to places like New Zealand, Australia, and Argentina. In Fiordland National Park in New Zealand where there are native red deer and introduced elk, the two species have interbred to such an extent that the pure elk strain has nearly disappeared. The animal that is called elk in Europe is actually a moose. You can tell the difference between a moose and an elk easily, as moose have flattish palm shaped antlers. Elk and other members of the deer family have antlers shaped like branches. Moose are also larger than elk.

Wildlife viewing in general is great in Montana. The two best places to view elk in Montana are Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park. The Charles M. Russel National Wildlife Reserve, about 200 miles northeast of Billings is also a good spot.

The range of elk in the United States is largely in the northern states. The animal also ranges widely over most of Canada and into Alaska. There are four subspecies in North America—the Manitoban elk, Rocky Mountain elk, Tule elk, and Roosevelt elk. In Asia, there are four subspecies - the Altai wapiti, Tianshan wapiti, Alashan wapiti, and Manchurian wapiti. The smallest is the Alashan wapiti, found in northern China.

Montana elk are among the largest, and are prized trophy animals for big game hunters, along with bears, big horn sheep, deer, antelope, wolves, and mountain goats. Like moose, elk are also hunted for food. There are Montana hunts on both public and private land, and much of this land is true backcountry with no roads and the hunting areas are accessed on horseback and with mules.

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