Cow elk ecology, movements and habitat use in the Duck Mountains of Manitoba

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Chranowski, Daniel John
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This study conducted baseline research to determine home range, movements and habitat selection of Manitoban elk (Cervus elaphus manitobensis) in the Duck Mountain (DM) of west-central Manitoba. Cow elk (n =22) were captured by helicopter net-gun and GPS radio-collared in 2005/06. Data was analyzed with ArcView 3.3 for Windows (ESRI). DM elk show selection for deciduous forest and avoidance of roads. Mean 100% MCP home ranges were 127.85 km2 with 95% and 50% adaptive kernel home range sizes of 58.24 km2 and 7.29 km2, respectively. Home range overlap occurs at all times of the year with many elk using farmland. Elk moved the least in late winter. Movements increased in the spring, declined in June with a gradual increase from July to October. Elk had generalized movement in southerly directions. No cow elk dispersed from the study area. Mean estimated calving date was June 3rd and mean estimated breeding date was September 27th. DM elk were found in mature deciduous/mixed-wood forest and shrub/grassland/prairie savannah ecosites but not found within 200 m of a road or water feature more often than expected by random. Elk were found in areas with <10% and >81% crown closure, on middle slopes and variable aspects. Elk displaced from forestry cut-blocks. Only 149 of 79,284 elk locations were within 100 m of a winter cattle operation. Recommendations to mitigate forestry and BTB impacts focus on riparian areas, road management, farming practices and hunting.
elk, Cervus elaphus manitobensis, home range, habitat selection, movements, forest cut-blocks, bovine TB, GPS