Elk - Colorado Wildlife Council

The World’s Largest Elk Population

Despite their large body size, elk can run up to 40 miles per hour, beat horses in short races, and jump up to 8 vertical feet.

Elk are one of the more fascinating Colorado animals. The male of the species, bulls, are most recognized for their large body size, beautiful antlers, and often mimicked bugle. The bugle is the sound of the rut, or mating season. The eerie, high-pitched bellow is the combination of a roar and whistle as bulls project this unique vocalization through their mouth and nostrils. Another thrilling display of the rut is the clash of antlers as bulls defend their herds. Antlers can grow at a rate of one inch per day and can weigh up to 40 lbs.


Elk are a significant part of the Colorado landscape as well as the economy, attracting wildlife viewers and hunters from across the country. About a century ago, the state’s elk herds were almost endangered by unregulated hunting. But today, Colorado boasts having the largest elk herd in the world thanks to successful research and monitoring of populations. This helps inform the management and the currently regulated hunting practices in our state. Isn’t it great to see that elk are no longer stuck in a rut?

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