Color is reddish brown or buckskin with a pale yellowish rump patch surrounding a short white tail. Head, neck and legs are darker than body in both sexes. Males when mature are lighter in color than females. Antlers are very prominent in mature bulls with each antler bearing from six, sometimes eight tines on a main beam. A mature bull elk in prime condition will weigh between 800 and 1000 pounds.
Wapiti are found throughout the Rocky Mountains and foothills in western Alberta. Recent elk colonization of lands North and East of Jasper park and recent elk transplants Northeast of Edmonton have considerably extended the range of this wild ungulate in Alberta.
Elk have also been colonized to BC, Manitoba, and several Eastern United States. Many of these herds originated in Elk Island National Park East of Edmonton. There are also Elk herds in several of the Western states. Colorado, Montana, Utah, Idaho, New Mexico, Washington, Oregon, and Washington.
Male wapiti are polygamous. They accompany and serve two, three or more cows during the breeding season or rut. Some bulls collect harems consisting of as many as twenty cows during the breeding season in September. Young are born in May or June, usually a single calf.
Elk are highly adaptable animals foraging on browse, forbs and grasses at all seasons. Grasses constitute a main item of diet in regions where grassy slopes remain free of snow in Winter. In other habitats more woody plants are eaten.
In most regions, Wapiti exhibit a marked seasonal migration, moving from high altitudes too low in early Winter and moving back to alpine habitats in Spring.