Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.


Tuesday, January 5, 2016

How Did that Happen?

We recently received the question below via a Facebook follower (Cortni):

This is my dad's elk he got this year. I was wondering if someone could tell me what the cause of this deformity could be.


Here is a response from Tom Toman, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation director of science and planning:

This kind of deformity can be caused by genes or by injury. My best guess on this elk is an injury occurred that broke the skull when the animal was a yearling. While a calf will have little knobs, they are not usually long enough to get caught on anything. A yearling’s skull is not totally hardened at that stage in life and is more easily damaged and the spikes a yearling have would give more leverage for an injury to occur. You can see the calcification of a bone ridge that has formed above the animal’s left eye (circled in red) in the photo to the right, and the caved in appearance of the skull below the antler pedicel. That is nature’s way of healing an injury. The other side of the skull is smooth and is typical of skull growth.   

Go here to see more elk biology facts and information.

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