What Causes Nontypical Antler Growth in Elk and Deer? (Ask the Biologist)

For those who’ve wondered, CPW biologists answer.

Colorado Outdoors Online

This Estes Park bull elk attracted a lot of attention with his nontypical antlers. Photo by Jim Austin. This Estes Park bull elk has been attracting a lot of attention with his unusual, nontypical antlers. Photo by Jim Austin.

In this segment of “Ask the Biologist,” Colorado Outdoors Online reader Iolanthe Culjak asks:

Question: “What causes unusual antler growth in elk and deer?”

Culjak, a resident of Estes Park, sees elk almost daily during her commute to and from work in this mountain town famous for its elk population. Yet, Culjak did a double take when she saw a bull elk sporting strange, “melted looking” antlers.

Although it’s normal for antlers to vary greatly in size, sometimes deer or elk will have unusual to extreme variations in antler shape, along with abnormal protrusions that appear to sprout and drop in every direction. Elk and deer with these abnormalities in their headgear are said to have “nontypical” antlers.

Brian Marsh, district wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, offers…

View original post 390 more words