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Mountain Elk at the Outdoor Discovery Center

Posted at 11:45 AM, Mar 14, 2017

The Outdoor Discovery Center is one of the many places in Michigan where people can embrace and explore wildlife.

The Outdoor Discovery Nature Center Preserve has 155 acres of land, and through animal ambassadors, scenic trails, and educational programs, they work to teach the community how to preserve the wildlife for future generations.

Todd went over to the preserve to talk to Jamie, the program director of Outdoor Discovery Center, to talk about their programs and learn more about one of their animal ambassadors, the elk.

Bull Rocky Mountain Elk

Bull Rocky Mountain Elk still live in the state of Michigan, however they aren't native to the state. The DNR introduced the elk around 1918, and the population grew steadily overtime. However because of habitat loss and over hunting, the population dropped drastically in the 70s.

Since then, management plans have come into place, allowing the elk population to grow.

The most striking quality of an elk is their antlers; they're 40 pounds worth of bone and it's held on top of his head. Elk use antlers as a tool to protect themselves and the herd, to dig up snow for food, and other survival skills.

The antlers grow and fall off every year because of a chemical process that happens in the animal's body. The connective tissue from the skull to the antler breaks down allowing the antler to fall off, as well as create new tissue almost immediately, making it one of the fastest growing types of tissue on the planet.

Antlers can grow as much as an inch a day starting in March, and are completely grown by the end of summer. By August the velvet material on their antlers will erode, and the antlers will stay that way until they fall off again the following Spring.

The Outdoor Discovery Center is located at 4214 56th Street in Holland. For more information on their events and educational programs call (616)-393-9453.

For more information on parks in your area, visit the Michigan Wildlife Council website.