What causes a Cactus Elk/Buck?

In Elk Facts by RMEFLeave a Comment

Here we are again with a twitter submission to explain a recent photo that popped up on @Jewells_Yo trailcam. In it, she asks “@RMEF can i get a little help? Curious as to what this might be?”

So we asked RMEF’s Director of Science and Planning, Tom Toman, to weigh in:

This looks like what they call a cactus buck in deer or cactus bull in elk. It happens less in elk than deer, but I have not found a reason for that. The velvet is never shed due to low testosterone levels and each subsequent year’s growth is laid over the previous year’s velvet. It is often due to an injury to the testicles. It can also be caused by cryptorchidism, which is a condition where either one or both testicles did not descend from the abdomen into the scrotum.
Best regards!
Tom Toman, RMEF Director of Science and Planning

Tom was also kind enough to provide us with a briefing paper from the Oregon Department of Wildlife. Click the link below to read it and be sure to share any photos or video you may have below.