Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Cervidae

Scientific Name: Alces alces
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Moose, Eurasian Elk, Elk, European Elk, Eurasian Moose, Siberian Elk
French Élan
Spanish Alce
Taxonomic Notes: In recognizing Eurasian Elk (Alces alces) and Moose (Alces americanus) as distinct species, Grubb (in Wilson and Reeder 2005) cited sources that documented differences in karyotype, body dimensions and proportions, form of premaxilla, coloration, and structure and dimensions of antlers (Geist 1998, Boyeskorov 1999). There is a broad zone of hybridization between the two forms in central Siberia and northern Outer Mongolia (Geist 1998).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Henttonen, H., Stubbe, M., Maran, T. & Tikhonov A.
Reviewer(s): Black, P., González, S. (Deer Red List Authority) & Schipper, J. (Global Mammal Assessment Team)
This specie is listed as Least Concern as the species is still very widespread and extremely abundant despite fairly intense hunting pressures in parts of its range. It is expanding its range in places and is tolerant of secondary habitat.
Previously published Red List assessments:
1996 Lower Risk/least concern (LR/lc)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:The Eurasian elk has a range in north Eurasia from Scandinavia, Poland, N Austria, and S Czech Republic (vagrant in Croatia, Hungary, and Romania), east to the Yenisei River (Siberia) and south to Ukraine, N Kazakhstan, N China (N Sinkiang), and possibly adjacent parts of Mongolia (Wilson and Reeder 2005). It has been extinct in Caucasus region since 19th century (Wilson and Reeder 2005).

In Europe, it has a continuous distribution extending through Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, the Baltic states, Belarus, Poland and northern Ukraine. There was a small population in northern Austria which is now extinct (although there may still be occasional migrants). There are three isolated subpopulations in southern Czech Republic, and the species is occasionally recorded in Germany, Croatia, Hungary and Romania. It has been extending its range southwards along the rivers into the northern Caucasus lowlands. It ranges from sea level up to at least 1,500 m in Europe (H. Henttonen pers. comm. 2006), and up to 2,500 m in the Altai mountains of Central Asia (Nygrén 1986). The species occurs east to the Yenisei River (Siberia) and south to Ukraine, N Kazakhstan, N China (N Sinkiang and the Altai region of Xinjiang,and possibly adjacent parts of Mongolia; it is extinct in Caucasus region since 19th century.
Countries occurrence:
Belarus; China; Croatia; Czech Republic; Estonia; Finland; Germany; Hungary; Kazakhstan; Latvia; Lithuania; Moldova; Mongolia; Norway; Poland; Romania; Russian Federation; Slovakia; Sweden; Ukraine
Regionally extinct:
Upper elevation limit (metres):2500
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:It is a widespread and abundant species. Numbers have increased markedy in Scandinavia in recent decades, and the range is expanding in the Caucasus. The global population is in the region of 1.5 million individuals, and the European population is in the order of 0.5 million. European populations show fluctuations over a multi-year cycle (Bauer and Nygrén 1999). Population estimates for European countries include the following: Czech Republic - maximum of 50 animals, Estonia - 10,000 individuals, Finland - at least 110,000 individuals (60-80,000 shot annually), Poland - 2,800 individuals, Sweden - 340,000 individuals (Pielowski and Jaworski 2005, Ruusila and Kojola in press).
Current Population Trend:Increasing
Additional data:
Number of mature individuals:500000
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Alces alces is found in a range of woodland habitats, both coniferous and broadleaved, from the tundra and taiga southwards through boreal to temperate zones. It tends to prefer damp, marshy habitats and areas in close proximity to water. It is also found in open country in the lowlands and mountains, including farmland, if there is forest nearby. It thrives in secondary growth, and its population expansion in Scandinavia has been linked to the replacement of natural taiga forest by secondary woodland after logging (Bauer and Nygrén 1999). It feeds on vegetative parts of trees, shrubs, dwarf shrubs, herbs, and aquatic plants, and is a pest of agriculture and forestry in at least parts of its range (Ruusila and Kojola in press). The species has seasonal movements in parts of its range, particularly in northern Europe.
Movement patterns:Full Migrant

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats to this species at present. A wasting disease has been reported, and its causes remain poorly understood (Frank 2004), but it is not considered to be a serious problem for the species. Overexploitation caused significant population declines and range contractions in the 18th and 19th centuries, but since then populations have recovered (Ruusila and Kojola in press, Bauer and Nygrén 1999). In most European range states, elk populations are controlled to prevent damage to forestry and arable crops (Bauer and Nygrén 1999).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: It is listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention. It occurs in a large number of protected areas across its range (Wemmer 1998, EMA Workshop 2006). The species is subject to intense management in some countries through hunting quotas (e.g. in Finland: Ruusila and Kojola in press). It is protected under national legislation in a number of countries (e.g. Germany).

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.1. Forest - Boreal
suitability: Suitable  
1. Forest -> 1.2. Forest - Subarctic
suitability: Suitable  
1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  
5. Wetlands (inland) -> 5.4. Wetlands (inland) - Bogs, Marshes, Swamps, Fens, Peatlands
suitability: Suitable  
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.2. Artificial/Terrestrial - Pastureland
suitability: Marginal  
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.2. Trade management
5. Law & policy -> 5.1. Legislation -> 5.1.1. International level
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.1. International level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
In-Place Education
1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.1. Housing & urban areas
♦ timing: Past, Unlikely to Return    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Residential & commercial development -> 1.2. Commercial & industrial areas
♦ timing: Past, Unlikely to Return    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.3. Agro-industry farming
♦ timing: Past, Unlikely to Return    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.3. Agro-industry grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing: Past, Unlikely to Return    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

3. Energy production & mining -> 3.2. Mining & quarrying
♦ timing: Past, Unlikely to Return    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing: Past, Unlikely to Return    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓  International : ✓ 

♦  Sport hunting/specimen collecting
 National : ✓  International : ✓ 

Bibliography [top]

Bannikov, A. G. 1954. Mammals of the Mongolian People’s Republic. Nauka, Moscow, Russia.

Bauer, K. and Nygrén, K. 1999. Alces alces. In: A. J. Mitchell-Jones, G. Amori, W. Bogdanowicz, B. Kryštufek, P. J. H. Reijnders, F. Spitzenberger, M. Stubbe, J. B. M. Thissen, V. Vohralík, and J. Zima (eds), The Atlas of European Mammals, Academic Press, London, UK.

Corbet, G.B. 1978. The Mammals of the Palaearctic Region: a Taxonomic Review. British Museum (Natural History) and Cornell University Press, London, UK and Ithaca, NY, USA.

Dulamtseren, S., Tsendjav, D. and Avirmed, D. 1989. Mammals of Mongolia. Publishing House of the Academy of Science, Ulaanbaatar.

Frank, A. 2004. A Review of the “Mysterious” Wasting Disease in Swedish Moose (Alces alces L.) Related to Molybdenosis and Disturbances in Copper Metabolism. Biological Trace Element Research 102(1-3): 143-160.

Geist, V. 1998. Deer of the World: Their Evolution, Behaviour, and Ecology. Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, USA.

Geptner, V. G., Nasimovich, A. A. and Bannikov, A. G. 1961. The Mammals of the Soviet Union. Vischay Shkola, Moscow, Russia.

Hundertmark, K. J., Shields, G. F., Bowyer, R. T. and Schwartz, C. C. 2002. Genetic Relationships Deduced From Cytochrome- b Sequences Among Moose. Alces 38: 113-122.

IUCN. 2008. 2008 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 5 October 2008).

Ministry of Nature and Environment. 1996. Biodiversity Conservation Action Plan for Mongolia. Ministry of Nature and Environment, Ulaanbaatar.

Ministry of Nature and Environment. 1997. Mongolian Red Book. In: Ts. Shiirevdamba, O. Shagdarsuren, G. Erdenejav, T. Amgalan and Ts. Tsetsegmaa (eds). ADMON Printing, Ulaanbaatar.

Nowak, R.M. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World. The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA and London, UK.

Nygrén, K. 1986. Alces alces (Linnaeus, 1758) - Elch. In: J. Niethammer and F. Krapp (eds), Handbuch der Säugetiere Europas, Band 2/II Paarhufer, Akademische Verlagsgesellschaft, Wiesbaden.

Ohtaishi, N. and Sheng, HI (eds). 1993. Deer in China. Biology and Management, Elsevier, London, UK and New York, USA.

Pratt, D. G., Macmillan, D. C. and Gordon, I. J. 2004. Local Community Attitudes to Wildlife Utilization in the Changing Economic and Social Context of Mongolia. Biodiversity and Conservation 13: 591-613.

Ruusila, V. and Kojola, I. In press. Ungulate management in Finland. In: M. Apollonio, R. Andersen and R. Putman (eds), Ungulate Management in Europe in the XXI Century.

Shagdarsuren, O. and Stubbe, M. 1974. Zur Säugetierfauna der Mongolei IV. Der Ussurische Elch - Alces alces cameloides (Milne-Edwards, 1867) - in der Mongolei. Archiv für Naturschutz und Landschaftsforschung 14: 147-150.

Shagdarsuren, O., Jigi, S., Tsendjav, D., Dulamtseren, S., Bold, A., Munkhbayar, Kh., Dulmaa, A., Erdenejav, G., Olziihutag, N., Ligaa, U. and Sanchir, Ch. 1987. Mongolian Red Book. Publishing House of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia.

Sheng, H.I. and Ohtaishi, N. 1993. The status of deer in China. In: N. Ohtaishi and H.I. Sheng (eds), Deer of China: Biology and Management, pp. 8. Elsevier, Oxford, UK.

Sokolov, V. E. and Orlov, V. N. 1980. Guide to the Mammals of Mongolia. Pensoft, Moscow, Russia.

Wemmer, C. 1998. Deer Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Whitehead, K.G. 1993. The Whitehead Encyclopedia of Deer. Voyageur Press, Inc, Stillwater, MN, USA.

Wilson, D.E. and Reeder, D.M. 1993. Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, USA.

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Citation: Henttonen, H., Stubbe, M., Maran, T. & Tikhonov A. 2008. Alces alces. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T41782A10539389. . Downloaded on 09 October 2015.
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