Cervus elaphus roosevelti
Wapití de Roosevelt (Sp), Roosevelt Wapiti (G), Wapiti du Roosevelt (F). Named after former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. Also called Olympic elk after the Olympic Mountains of Washington State.
DESCRIPTION The largest North American wapiti, with bulls weighing 700-1,100 pounds (320-500 kg) and cows 580-620 pounds (265-280 kg). Compared with those of the Rocky Mountain elk, the antlers are much more rugged and massive, although generally shorter and with less spread. The fourth (royal) tine can be forked, and the ends of the antlers, which are often webbed or palmate, tend to form a crown or cup of three or more points. The body coloration has more contrast, with the back and sides turning pale fawn in winter, the head, legs and underparts a dark brown, and the neck almost black.
HABITAT Dense evergreen rain forests, including mountain forests.
DISTRIBUTION Canada: Except for a small herd in the Phillips Arm area, which probably migrated from Vancouver Island, and recently introduced herds near Sechelt and Powell River, the only Roosevelt Elk in British Columbia are the 3,000 to 3,500 members of the subspecies that live on Vancouver Island. United States: Coastal Washington and Oregon, west of Interstate 5; and northwestern California, essentially in Del Norte and Humboldt counties. Introduced (1927) on Afognak and Raspberry islands in the Gulf of Alaska. There was also a free-ranging herd on Santa Rosa Island off California's southern coast, which was introduced about 1910 from Washington's Olympic Peninsula but were exterminated by the United States Park Service along with the mule deer to return the island back to being void of wildlife before man arrived.
REMARKS The Roosevelt elk of the Pacific Northwest lives in some of the wettest, most difficult terrain in North America. Hunted mainly by locals who are familiar with the country and the animals, either on foot in the rain-soaked jungles, or from vehicles along the many logging tracks. In recent years, the best trophies have come from Vancouver Island in British Columbia; however, the Olympic Peninsula of Washington also holds some very large bulls, including a protected population in Olympic National Park that resupplies the surrounding area. Some years, many large park bulls are pushed out of the mountains into hunting areas by heavy snowfall. The introduced Afognak and Raspberry islands populations in Alaska live in conditions similar to those of the Pacific Northwest, but their antlers are smaller. Southern California's arid Santa Rosa Island is very different from the Roosevelt elk's natural habitat. Some unusual antler conformations were taken there, and the success rate was high.
For record-keeping purposes, the Afognak and Raspberry island populations are treated as indigenous; those from Santa Rosa Island are listed separately.