Elk NetworkWhy do elk eat bones?

Conservation | April 30, 2017

Elk will indeed indulge in a bone meal from time to time. Elk have been known to chew on bones as well as swallow them whole. According to Valerius
Geist, wildlife biologist and cervid expert, elk may even eat carrion and sage grouse chicks in addition to bones and shed antlers.

During antler production, bulls require roughly 100 grams of protein each day, increasing their need for crude protein by 50 percent compared to the rest of the year. Cows, during gestation and lactation, also seek out supplemental sources of protein and minerals. Antlers contain high levels of calcium and phosphorous, but are mostly made up of protein.

Biologists don’t think elk have any particular affinity for the bones of their kin. Since elk live in herds on well-established ranges, they eat the bones of other elk simply because they are the most available source of protein and minerals.