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Elk responses to humans in a densely roaded areaAuthor(s): Mark A . Rumble; Lakhdar Benkobi; R. Scott Gamo
Source: Intermountain Journal of Sciences. 11(1-2): 10-24.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Rocky Mountain Research Station
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DescriptionDespite several studies that demonstrate general responses of elk (Cervus elaphus) to roads and people, land management agencies continue to struggle with management of offhighway vehicles, recreation, and roads. The Black Hills National Forest has a greater road density (3.2 km/km2) than any other national forest. We used Global Positioning System (GPS) telemetry collars to quantify responses of elk to human activity by quantifying their movements during the 2000 and 2001 big game hunting seasons in the Black Hills, South Dakota. Three hunting seasons, 1 month each, occurred consecutively from 1 September to 30 November and included limited entry archery elk, limited entry firearm elk, and limited entry firearm deer (Odocoileus spp.). We used the number of licenses issued times the average days hunters were in the field to quantify human activity. Average distance/hr between successive locations increased during the 10-day interval that began on the opening date of the archery elk season (P < 0.10) compared to the previous 10 days in late August. Movements by elk following the opening of the firearm elk season were similar to those during the last 10 days of September, but greater (P < 0.10) than movements during the last 10 days of August. Elk movements during 10 days after the opening of the firearm deer season (1 November) were greater (P < 0.05) than both the last 10 days of August and the last 10 days of October. Movements increased on the opening weekends of hunting seasons and the day after Thanksgiving, which is a traditional day for hunting deer in the Black Hills. Individual animals selected habitats differently (P < 0.01) but also selected (P < 0.10) habitats different from those available within 500 m of locations for each 10-day interval only from 22 August through 31 October. Elk dispersion patterns relative to roads varied with the hunting season. During the archery season, elk were closer to primary and secondary roads than before the season. During the firearm elk and firearm deer seasons, elk moved away from primary and secondary roads. Based on foraging models, elk may require 0.5 hr of additional foraging time to accommodate greater movements resulting from human activity. In light of an increased demand for outdoor recreational opportunities, our study provided additional support for land management agencies to develop travel management policies that provide elk with areas of little human disturbance.
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CitationRumble, Mark A .; Benkobi, Lakhdar; Gamo, R. Scott 2005. Elk responses to humans in a densely roaded area. Intermountain Journal of Sciences. 11(1-2): 10-24.
KeywordsBlack Hills, Cervus elaphus, elk, GPS telemetry, habitat selection, human activity, off-road vehicles, road density, South Dakota
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