MAZINA’IGAN PAGE 20 FALL 2017 • KID’S PAGE • The elk, or omashkooz, is making a comeback Did you know that elk used to live all across Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota? Because of overhunting and changes in land use in the 1800s, elk disappeared. More recently, elk are being brought back to the region with the help of tribes, states and conservation organizations. The elk, or omashkooz in the Ojibwe language, is a culturally important animal. Elk babies are called calves. Calves are born in late May through early June. They are born with spots and have very little scent to camouflage them from predators. They spend their first few weeks hiding motionless while their mothers feed. Afterafewweeksthecalvesandtheirmothersbegintogroup together in herds. By this time the young elk have grown stronger and have a better chance of outrunning predators. More elk in a herd equals more eyes to watch for danger and lets calves focus on nursing or finding the most nutritious food. Often, a bunch of calves stick together in a nursery herd and follow a single cow. That cow acts like a babysitter, keeping her eyes and ears alert for danger. Different cows take turns babysit- ting so they all get a chance to eat. If a predator shows up, the babysitter will lead all the calves away in a group. That way they don’t scramble around confused looking for their mothers. Once the danger disappears, the herd settles down and the mothers will sniff out their calves. Elk talk to each other in a lot of ways. Since they live in large groups, they must talk to each other more than many other animals. A newborn gives a high-pitched squeal, and its mother can recognize her calf by its voice. An elk bark is a warning of danger. Omashkooz talk to each other by making sounds such as chirps, mews and miscellaneous squeals. Bugling (loud holler- ing or a squealing whistle ending with grunt) is done by a bull advertising his fitness to cows, warning other bulls to stay away, or announcing his readiness to fight. (Reprinted with permission from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.) Omashkooz. (Wikipedia photo) Fast Facts • Elk calves weigh an average of 35 pounds at birth. • Elk are members of the deer family. • Moose are the largest members of the deer family, fol- lowed by elk, then caribou, then deer. • Elk have antlers, not horns. Antlers are shed and regrown every year. Antlers are made of bone. • A set of antlers can weigh up to 40 pounds. • Elk replace all of their hair twice a year—once in the spring and once in the fall. • Elk are herd-forming animals. Herds offer more security because there are so many eyes, ears and noses checking for danger. • There were an estimated 10 million elk throughout North America before Europeans arrived. By 1907, there were less than 100,000. Today, about 1 million wild elk roam in 26 states and five Canadian provinces. • Predators of elk are: black bears, wolves, coyotes and humans. Color omaskooz. Z I A Z A B X S T R O B U N A D C L O K O C P R T Y R T Y L K A K K R L A E Z E H L L U B D E A H Q S V R A E Z Y R N J A E P R K J Q U A J M S P B U G L I N G O F J S D P N O U K Antler Bark Bugling Bull Calves Elk Herd Omashkooz Predator Omashkooz Word Search