Can Elk And Deer Cross Breed?

In the animal kingdom, certain species can mix with one another. Mule deer and whitetails may interbreed. Since the Atlantic Ocean divides wild herds, only red deer and elk in captivity or when game-farm escapees are involved can produce fruitful progeny.

Biologists believed they had discovered an elk-moose hybrid about a century ago. There are little details and no pictures available, but in 1925, forest rangers in Montana’s Deerlodge National Forest described a creature with remarkably peculiar antlers. This “elk with the odd horns” and peculiar body was estimated to be three years old and was a cross between a moose and an elk. The “melk” frequently interacted and grazed with neighborhood elk.

The animal, which was enormous by elk standards and was allegedly close to 1,100 pounds when it was shot and killed five years later by a hunter. The New York Times even took notice of the peculiarity and wrote a little article on it in December 1931. However, nobody is aware of the whereabouts of the beast’s rack or any other remains. It is impossible to confirm without a genetic sample.

Valerius Geist, a renowned expert in cervid biology, has spent more than 50 years researching moose, mule deer, and elk. He enjoys thinking about possible hybridizations. But this pairing?

He answers without hesitating, “No, it is not feasible. Elk and moose are both types of deer, however there is little to no probability of their mating. Elk and moose are genetically quite dissimilar and incompatible members of two subfamilies of deer.

Despite thousands of years of geographical separation, elk and red deer belong to the same genus, Cervus, and are therefore closely related. Alces is the home branch of the moose, which is far from Cervus. To further complicate matters, moose are actually referred to as elk in Europe.

According to Geist, it’s not unusual for moose to have smaller-than-average bodies and antlers that resemble elks, with all tines and no palms. In reality, he claims that those characteristics are typical of starved Shiras moose found in the Lower 48, as well as western Siberian/European moose and the Ussuri moose, a Manchurian dwarf moose.

On the other hand, palmated antlers in elk are quite uncommon. While injuries, illness, or hormonal imbalances can cause antlers to grow incorrectly for a moose-like look, aging bulls occasionally develop bladed tines.

The moose-elk story still appears on search engines and websites that promote pseudoscience, but 90 years after that strange animal wandered the Deerlodge, the likelihood that it was an elk-moose is as remote as concluding that Bigfoot exists.

Natural Sightings: Is this a cross between an elk and a deer?

In Bear Valley Springs, David Whitley captured this image of what looks to be an elk with antlers that closely resemble those of a California Mule Deer. This animal appears to be one of two that Danny Hendrickson snapped while they were hanging out with some Mule Deer bucks a few weeks ago.

The animal is the color of an elk, but it is smaller than typical elk bulls and has narrow antlers that resemble Mule Deer rather than the very thick antlers of typical bull elks, which made David, one of the nation’s foremost authorities on rock art, wonder if it might be a “delk” — a hybrid between an American Elk and a Mule Deer.

There doesn’t appear to be much published data about the likelihood of this occuring in the scholarly literature. However, donkeys with 62 chromosomes can breed with horses with 64 chromosomes to create mules, which have 63 chromosomes. Elk have 68 chromosomes, while deer in the Odocoileus genus (White-tailed Deer, Mule Deer, and Black-tailed Deer) have 70 chromosomes, thus it shouldn’t be conceivable.

When hybrids like these happen, it typically involves mating between a male from the smaller species and a female from the bigger species, such as when a male donkey mates with a mare or a male coyote mates with a female wolf. Therefore, it’s possible that a Mule Deer buck happened to come across an unprotected cow elk that was in estrus, and they got together to produce the animal in the picture.

I’ve only been able to uncover anecdotal stories of “delk,” so I’m still unsure if this is feasible. But since we have few elk and Mule Deer are very common, the Tehachapi Mountains would definitely offer the necessary conditions for such an anomaly.

hybrid mammal species

A conscientious student is comparable to a bee who collects honey from a variety of flowers and stores it in his hive.

Both northern North America and northern Eurasia are potential breeding areas for moose (Alces alces) and elk (Cervus elaphus). Given the existence of images of clear hybrids like those in the image above and the fact that there are reports of such hybrids on file, it does appear that moose-elk hybrids occasionally occur. As a result, a male with mixed features who was most likely a moose-elk hybrid was shot in Montana in 1931. A letter dated August 8, 1931, which may be seen in vol. 20 (p. 95) of Science News Letter, is as follows:

The Deerlodge National Forest in Bear Gulch [Jefferson Co., Montana] recently saw the death of the first known example of a moose-elk hybrid. It browsed like an elk and was identified by American forest rangers as “the elk with the strange horns,” but its body and horns were actually a mix of moose and elk. According to his appearance, he was initially observed [in 1925] on the Boulder Creek District of the Deerlodge Forest when he was around three years old. The beast weighed 1100 pounds when it was slaughtered. a The animal’s existence in a herd of C. elaphusSS suggests that its mother was an elk.


Bull—- was my initial thought. After a bit further study, I discovered the following on Wikipedia:

“Although I do not know of any totally well-authenticated cases of perfectly fertile hybrid creatures, I have some cause to suppose that the hybrids from Cervulus vaginalis and Reevesii […] are perfectly fertile,” wrote Charles Darwin in Origin of Species (1859). Currently, these two muntjac variants are regarded as one species.

To increase the meat output of farmed deer, several deer hybrids have been developed. Red deer from the Old World and American Elk (or Wapiti) can both breed successfully in captivity and were originally regarded as one species. However, hybrid offspring must be able to flee and protect themselves from predators, and in the wild state, these hybrid offspring are unable to do so. There are actually three different species of red deer: European red deer, Central Asian red deer, and American elk or wapiti, according to recent research on animal behavior, anatomy, and antler traits. (The North American term for the distinct animal known as moose is the European Elk.) By comparing velvet to body weight, the hybrids are around 30% more productive in terms of antler production. Wapiti have occasionally improved some European Red Deer herds, although not always in the ways that were planned.

There are hybrid zones between Red Deer and North American Wapiti populations as well as Red Deer and Sika Deer populations in New Zealand, where deer are an imported species. In order to develop a farmed deer that gives birth in the spring in New Zealand, Red Deer and Pere David Deer have been artificially crossed. The initial hybrids were back-crossed to Red Deer after being produced through artificial insemination. Such hybrid progeny, however, can only endure in captivity without predators.

The native Wapiti people of Canada are viewed as being in danger by the farming of European Red Deer and Red Deer hybrids. In Britain, the native Red Deer are viewed as being in danger from the invasive Sika Deer. When immature Sika stags extend their range into established red deer habitats without finding any Sika hinds to mate with, the result is the first Sika Deer/Red Deer hybrids. Instead, they mate with immature Red hinds and create viable hybrids. These hybrids mongrelize by mating with either Sika or Red Deer, depending on which species is common in the region. For this reason, many of the Sika Deer who escaped from British parks were likely hybrids already. These hybrids can only survive in captivity or when there are no predators because they did not adequately inherit survival tactics.

Mule deer and White-tail deer have mated in captivity. Hybrids have been created by matings between male White-tailed Deer and female Mule Deer and male White-tailed Deer and female White-tailed Deer. Only about half of the hybrid fawns made it through the first few months. Although hybrids have been found in the wild, they suffer from improper survival strategy inheritance. To avoid predators, mule deer move with bounding leaps (also known as “stotting”) of all four hooves. Stotting is so specific that it appears to only be possible in Mule Deer who are 100% genetically pure. Even a one-eighth White-tail/seven-eighths Mule Deer hybrid raised in captivity has irregular elopement behavior and is unlikely to reach reproductive age. On game ranches where both species are housed and where predators are managed by humans, hybrids do exist.

Fears about genetic pollution are confirmed by hybrid elk.

Elk that were slain close to Elliston last fall had crossbreeding with European red deer, according to tests, and state game officials say the genetic contamination supports their concerns about breeding foreign animals.

According to Heidi Youmans, author of a Fish, Wildlife, and Parks Department article on game farms, “it appears that our worst concerns have materialized.” “We have a difficulty. It has taken place.” The hybrid animals were found when the wildlife agency sent elk samples to the federal wildlife forensics laboratory in Ashland, Oregon, for genetic testing in an effort to establish a case against a poacher.

According to the findings, one of the animals was actually a third- or fourth-generation mix between a European red deer and an elk, according to Gary Burke, head of the department’s criminal investigation section.

Officials who were concerned took samples from 10 other elk that had been properly killed in the same region by hunters. One of those ten had red deer genes, and tests indicated that another was likely a hybrid.

There is no way to know, according to officials, whether the hybrid animals escaped from a game farm, were unintentionally released captive animals while in transport, or whether they are the offspring of captive elk that are now reproducing in the wild.

For fear of escapes, some jurisdictions have explicitly prohibited hybrids, and others have put a moratorium on the construction of new game farms.

Elk captive breeding and raising are prohibited in Utah, according to John Leatham, a biologist with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources.

The North American elk have changed over time and have adapted to this region, according to Leatham. “The European elk have certain special characteristics, too. They might be more immune to some diseases or more prone to others. If you’re not careful, native species could become extinct.”

The testing will probably strengthen the resistance to exotic animal game ranches held by the Montana wildlife agency.

Crossbreeding between wild elk and fugitive exotics has been advised by the department to potentially permanently change wild elk stocks. Furthermore, according to biologists, escapes from game ranches are unavoidable.

Although smaller and more aggressive breeders than Rocky Mountain elk, red deer are nevertheless related to them. They have been bred with elk on game farms both domestically and overseas, and they bellow rather than bugle.

Imports of red deer or hybrids are prohibited in Montana. But genetic testing has significant limitations, making detection challenging.

Youmans claimed it was hard to determine whether the Elliston hybrids were recent escapees or the wild progeny of previous escapees because they lacked ear tags, which are needed for confined animals.

She claimed that it is roughly 90 miles to the closest game farm and that there have been no escapes or transportation mishaps reported to the department. However, she claimed that game farmers frequently hold back on reporting issues.

Despite mission manager Mike Sarafin’s recent statement that nothing is ever definite, the Artemis I launch is officially scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 3.

Crazy Elk and Caribou Mixture According to a biologist

There are a lot of animals in the deer family. Naturally, deer come first. They can be divided into different subspecies, including as whitetail, blacktail, sitka, and mule deer. Then there are the larger deer family members. Caribou appear to be the next in size, weighing about 300 pounds on average. Then there are elk, which weigh on average about 700 pounds. The moose, the largest member of the deer family, comes last. The weight of a bull moose can reach 1,500 pounds. They all belong to the same type of animal, regardless of size. These “deer” can breed to produce hybrid deer, much like dogs can.

Cameron Hanes, a professional hunter, recently harvested what is thought to be a cross between an elk and a caribou. According to the Facebook post from Non-typical Nation.

We are thrilled to reveal the first-ever Caribou/Elk crossbreed, which was taken last October when hunting mountain caribou in Alaska. DNA testing is now complete, and confirmation from a special Alaskan Wildlife Research Team has been granted.

The hybrid’s size, color, and notably its antlers exhibit traits common to both caribou and elk. Small main beams that expand into “paddles” are a known feature of caribou antlers. Elk, on the other hand, are renowned for having massive main beams that reach into sharp tips. This novel hybrid seems to include elements of both traits.