Natural Sightings #551 - Young Bull Elk.jpeg

A young American Elk bull stops near Cub Lake.

David Emenheiser took this photo last month near Cub Lake in Bear Valley Springs of a young American Elk bull (Cervus canadensis nelsoni). This bull lacks the enormous body size and thick antlers of mature males, but he is a nice looking young male who may one day be competing with other bulls to form a harem of cow elk.

David said this bull was "a wedding crasher," venturing near where a couple had set up tents for their nuptials, though it was merely interested in grazing the green grass there, not causing problems for the wedding. Cub Lake is such a pretty setting with easy accessibility, so it is frequently used for weddings, parties and receptions.

In Europe, the Scandinavian name "elg" gave rise to the term "elk" and is used as the word for moose. When Europeans came to North America, they encountered a species of deer that was so large that they were reminded of moose, so they confusingly called them elk as well.

In North America, the large animals we now call elk were known "wapiti" in the U.S. and Canada, which is a Shawnee and Cree word meaning "white rump" and refers to the light patch on an elk's hind end. The word moose is from Algonquin Indian languages and is the term used in North America for that giant, solitary species of deer.

The Nuwä (Kawaiisu or Paiute) word for elk is parahui, which translates as "water deer," and refers to the fondness that elk have for marshy and aquatic environments. It is pronounced pah-rah-HOO-ee.

NATURAL SIGHTINGS is a regular feature of the Tehachapi News edited by Jon Hammond which showcases photos of the natural beauty that enhances the quality of life in Tehachapi. If you have a good quality image of plants, animals, insects, trees, birds, weather phenomena, etc., taken in the Tehachapi area, you may submit it to the Tehachapi News for possible publication. Submissions can be dropped by the News office in the form of a print or CD, or sent by email to: