Elk In Wisconsin: Everything You Need To Know About Them

Last Updated on September 14, 2023 by Amin Tawar

Elk In Wisconsin
Elk In Wisconsin: Everything You Need To Know About Them

There was a time about 130 years ago when the bugle of rutting bulls couldn’t be heard in Wisconsin at all. But know that elk species did live in the state before for centuries. Then what happened to these creatures and why did they get extirpated from the state? And the most important question is, what is their presence today in Wisconsin? 

Below I’ve explained everything you need to know about the elk in Wisconsin, where you can see one, etc.

Are There Any Elk in Wisconsin?

Yes, There are elk in Wisconsin. In fact, it wasn’t until recent years that elks were found in large numbers across the state of Wisconsin.

Once upon a time, you could easily spot at least one elk in the landscapes of Wisconsin no matter which area you are in. But due to widespread unregulated hunting, habitat destruction, and increased human interference, elk were pushed to their extinction in the state. 

Thanks to reintroduction efforts by the state, and support of multiple agencies, and not to forget the unending backing of the Wisconsin residents, there is now a stable and growing population of elk in Wisconsin.

How Many Elk Are in Wisconsin?

The native elks of the state belonged to the family of Eastern elk species which went extinct in the 1800s in Wisconsin as it did in many other states after European settlement. The re-introduced elk population belongs to the Rocky Mountain sub-species. 

About 25 elks were re-introduced in 1995 and another set of elks in 2015. This revived the state’s elk population which now stands at more than 400 individuals. As per the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the population is projected to increase further in the coming years.

Where Can I See Elk in Wisconsin?

Elk In Wisconsin
Elk In Wisconsin: Everything You Need To Know About Them

Elk in Wisconsin are not as widespread now as they did in the past. Today these creatures are concentrated in Clam Lake and Black River Falls areas. The reintroduction of elk in the last few years took place in Clam Lake due to its suitability as determined by the Wisconsin Elk Study Committee. That’s why the area has the densest population of elk in the state.

Flambeau River State Forest, Governor Knowles State Forest, and Brule State Forest are some other areas with established albeit small elk herds.

It is important to note that the wildlife population tends to change with time due to factors like weather conditions, natural calamities, human interference, hunting, and habitat loss. So, to maintain this stable population of elk, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources monitors elk population and distribution in the state.

Also Check our Guide On Elk In Oregon

What Time of Year are Elk in Wisconsin?

Elk inhabit the landscapes of Wisconsin throughout the year. But the best time to see them is during the elk season which is held from mid-October to mid-November and in mid-December. October is when these creatures rut and hence are in search of mates.

This is the best time to visit elk habitats as it is much easier to spot them. Additionally, during the December season as they gather in lower elevations, the snow in the backdrop makes it easier to spot them.

What is the Biggest Elk Killed in Wisconsin?

So, for your information, elk is the second largest deer species and often the largest in their said ecosystem. The same is true for the Wisconsin elk herds. 

Typically, these creatures weigh anywhere between 500 to 900 pounds with bulls being larger than cows and reaching a height of 4 and a half feet at shoulder and a body length of 6 feet. 

The largest one compared to that stood at the size of 6 feet and 7 inches caught by Dan Evenson of Cambridge on 15th October 2021. It was the first time killing an elk with modern archery equipment since the modern era of elk hunting in the state. 

What Do Elk Eat in Wisconsin?

Elk like other species in the deer family are herbivores and consume plants and vegetation. Their diet typically consists of leaves, twigs, shrubs, bushes, and some bark of trees. 

In Wisconsin, they feed on some specific food sources like grasses, forbs, sedges, and woody plants like dogwoods, aspens, etc. Note that, elk diet changes from season to season based on the availability of food. And as these creatures typically consume a lot, their habitat in itself is based on the availability of food.

Can You Hunt & Shoot Elk in Wisconsin?

Yes, You can hunt and shoot elk in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has established hunting seasons as a medium to control the increase of elk population in the state and also to provide more recreational activities in the state.

The first hunting season in the state was conducted in 2018 just in the Clam Lake Elk range alone and by 2020, the whole Northern Elk Management zone has been opened for hunting. 

The state provides hunting opportunities through a quota system where the number of hunting permits is fixed for each year. Interested hunters can apply for this and if selected should comply with the rules and regulations established by the state. 

While it is difficult to obtain an elk hunting license due to fierce competition, you can improve your chances by going through the application prior and keeping the requirements ready when needed.

Also Check Our Guide On Elk In America


And that was everything you need to know about the Elk In Wisconsin. I hope this article answered all your queries.

Thank You For Reading!

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