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The Great Plains



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Get the facts and stats on animals from the Great Plains.


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North American Elk
Photograph by Joel Sartore

Hardy survivor, an elk calls across the plains. Indigenous to the region, elk were nearly eaten to extinction by miners, settlers, and railroad crews. Populations that may have numbered as high as ten million were reduced to less than 90,000 by the early 1920s. Today elk are on the rebound with numbers in the hundreds of thousands, largely due to government protection that began in 1927.



Scientific name: Cervus elaphus
Family: Cervidae
Group/Class: Mammal
Historic range: All of North America
Current status: Not endangered
Population to which status applies: Entire range
Current range: Most of the United States west of the Mississippi River plus Pennsylvania; and Canadian provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Northwest Territories, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Yukon Territory





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