Notebook: Biologists Studying Elk Movement, Survival

By Frye, Bob | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, July 17, 2006 | Go to article overview

Notebook: Biologists Studying Elk Movement, Survival


Frye, Bob, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Pennsylvania's elk seem to be doing well, but work to determine for sure whether that's the case is under way.

Game Commission biologists radio-collared almost two dozen elk calves earlier this summer, and they will spend the next 18 months monitoring their movements and dispersal, habitat usage and survival.

The information biologists collect is intended to help better manage the state's elk herd.

Scientists radio-collared and tracked 22 calves last spring. Of those animals, which weighed an average of 42 pounds at the time of capture, only two died, one from unknown causes and one by being taken by a hunter in elk season. That latter elk weighed 160 pounds at the time it was harvested.

One of the things biologists hope to determine is what role predators play in elk calf survival. Researchers believe elk cows are more protective of calves than white-tailed deer are of fawns, but they also know that black bears take elk calves in western states.

"We'd like to determine if elk are more susceptible to predators or other mortality factors in the new areas they inhabit," elk biologist Jon DeBerti said. "We know plenty about elk in southwestern Elk and western Cameron counties, where elk have existed for more than 80 years since they were reintroduced. But we are trying to learn more about the new populations in northern Clearfield, western Clinton, and southern Cameron counties."

Second printing

The Ecosystem Management Project publication, "Deer, Communities & Quality Of Life," is in its second printing. …

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