Assessing the relative contributions transmission line rights-of-way have on habitat utilization by moose case study : Riding Mountain National Park

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Hill, Leane
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Moose (Alces alces andersoni) are one of many game animals managed for sustainable subsistence, sport hunting, and for non-consumptive users in Manitoba. Managing this species is essential if we are to ensure healthy populations for present and future generations. An important component of moose management is understanding how resource development affects moose-habitat relationships. Modifications to the landscape through resource development (ie. timber harvesting), often promote the growth of young vegetation that is favorable to moose. Growth of young vegetation can also be enhanced through the maintenance of an established transmission line right-of-way (ROW). However, few studies have examined the habitat relationship that exists between moose and transmission line rights-of-way. The focus of this study was to give insight into the relative habitat contributions these areas may provide for moose. Set in Riding Mountain National Park, this study examined habitat use by moose along a transmission line ROW using methods that included a browse study, pellet group counts, track counts and aerial survey data. The results indicated that moose used ROWs for foraging, traveling to new food patches and for bedding. Beaked hazelnut in ROW areas experienced more intensive use by moose throughout the winter period when compared to adjacent forests. Bedding and pellet group occurrence were greater within the aspen ROW when compared to the adjacent forest. No differences were found in bedding or pellet group occurrence between the mixed-wood ROW and adjacent forest.