Photo by Bob Gress
Total Length: 85-110 inches
Tail Length: 5-6 inches
Weight: 460-1025 pounds
The Shawnee Indian word wapiti means "pale rump." They are the
largest member of the deer family in Kansas. They are a light brown below and darker brown
across the back. Their rump and tail are straw colored. Mature bulls grow antlers nearly 5
feet long and 5 feet wide in summer and early fall. The antlers are carried through winter
and are shed in early spring. In early autumn, "bugling" bulls announce their
dominance during the breeding season. The bull's neck and shoulders swell and sparring
bulls may dual over control of a harem of 10-20 cows. Herds congregate together in winter
and cows deliver a single calf, usually weighing about 30 pounds, in early June. Wapitilk
live up to 15 years in the wild.
Wapiti formerly ranged throughout the North American continent north of Mexico.
Today they are found in prairies, shrublands and woodlands of the Rocky Mountain region of
the United States and Canada and the Pacific Northwest. There are a couple of small,
free-ranging herds in Kansas.
Wapiti are primarily grazers feeding on grasses and forbs. In the winter they
browse on shrubs, bark and twigs.
Return to the Mammal's Den!
Text: George Potts and Bob Gress
Design: Jim Mason