Un-moose at leisure

Posted on June 30, 2012


Bruce Laidlaw was out and about along M-88 and stopped to admire the elk at Conant’s Maplehurst Farms (a/k/a Conant’s Elk Ranch). He remarked that they were sporting impressive racks.

And so they are. I went looking for links about elk (Cervus elaphus) for you and decided there is a lot of balderdash floating around out there. I turned instead to my beloved Stan Tekiela, whose Mammals of Michigan Field Guide is kept handy for emergencies. He writes The British name for the moose is “Elk.” This name was apparently misapplied by our early settlers and has remained since.

So if the early settlers had had the benefit of a decent wildlife guide, present-day Michiganians would be calling moose elk and calling elk omashkooz (the Ojibwe name for the critter) or wapiti (the Shawnee word for “white rump”).  OK, all you cousins over there in the UK? We’re talking about North American elk today, which are not moose. Nothing like a common language to foster international misunderstanding.

There are wild elk herds in Michigan over in the Pigeon River country. Stan says they all descend from seven individuals introduced near Wolverine in 1918. That must have been one heckuva party.

The Conants remind the public that the Rocky Mountain Elk at their ranch are wild animals too—not cuddly pets or placid dairy cows (and I could tell you some stories about dairy cows and spaniels, too, come to that).  Please do not mess with the elk. They are big and moody and they can run faster than you can. But aren’t they gorgeous? They are. Thank you Bruce.

P.S.  I finally found a site worth a link: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.