Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: New Mexico
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

New Mexico Project


Elk demography, movements and habitat selection in the Mexican Wolf Recovery Area in Arizona and New Mexico

August 2018 - June 2024


Personnel

Participating Agencies

  • T&E inc
  • Houston Safari Club Foundation
  • Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation-NM Chapter
  • T&E Inc
  • Arizona Elk Society
  • Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation-AZ Chapter
  • Arizona Game and Fish Department
  • New Mexico Department of Game and Fish

Elk population declines have been observed following wolf reintroduction or recolonization events. These declines were attributed to the combined effects of hunter harvest, predation and interactions with stochastic climatic events resulting lowered adult survival and recruitment. In addition, changes in the predator community composition has led to other non-lethal effects with the potential to influence elk demographic rates. Baseline data on elk survival rates, cause-specific mortality and habitat selection is limited for periods prior to the reintroduction of Mexican wolves in New Mexico and Arizona (e.g., Ballard et al. 2000). Consequently it is unknown whether Mexican wolves are reducing elk population growth or if wolf predation is compensatory, additive, or partially compensatory due to a lack of appropriate data. The lack of data impedes the development of the most informed management plans for elk in the Mexican wolf recovery area. Therefore the goal of this study is to assess variability in survival, cause-specific mortality, movements and habitat selection of elk across the Mexican wolf recovery area in Arizona and New Mexico. Our specific objectives are to: 1) estimate seasonal and annual cause-specific mortality rates for elk neonates and adult female elk; 2) estimate seasonal and annual survival rates for neonates and adult female elk; 3) estimate seasonal kill rates and prey composition of Mexican wolves; 4) assess effects of wolf activity on seasonal habitat selection and movements of elk; and 5) model the likely population trajectories of elk populations subjected to varying cause-specific mortality rates from predators (e.g., Mexican wolves, black bears, mountain lions, coyotes) and other causes of mortality (e.g., harvest, illegal harvest, vehicle collision). This study is a collaboration between the New Mexico Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, Arizona Game and Fish Department, New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Presentations Presentation Date
Boyle, S.T., J.W. Cain III, N.M. Tatman, S.G. Liley, J.C deVos, and J. Avey. 2020. Cause-specific Mortality and Survival of Elk in the Mexican Wolf Recovery Area in New Mexico and Arizona. 53rd Joint Annual Meeting of the Arizona/New Mexico Chapters of The Wildlife Society, Prescott, Arizona, USA. February 2020
Boyle, S.T., J.W. Cain III, N.M. Tatman, S.G. Liley, J.C deVos, and J. Avey. 2020. Cause-specific Mortality and Survival of Elk in the Mexican Wolf Recovery Area in New Mexico and Arizona. 8th Natural History of the Gila Symposium, Silver City, New Mexico, USA. February 2020
Boyle, S.T., J.W. Cain III, N.M. Tatman, S.G. Liley, J.C deVos, and J. Avey. 2021.Elk mortality risk in the Mexican Wolf Recovery Area. 54th Joint Annual Meeting of the Arizona/New Mexico Chapters of The Wildlife Society, Virtual Online. February 2021
Cain, J.W. III, C.J. Thompson, and Z. Farley. 2022. Predation risk from recovering Mexican gray wolf (Canis lupus baileyi) populations influences resource selection and behavior of elk (Cervus canadensis) in the southwestern United States. 10th International Deer Biology Congress. Osijek, Croatia. September 2022
Farley, Z., J.W. Cain III, N.M. Tatman, S.G. Liley, J.C deVos, and J. Avey. 2020. Assessing the impacts of a recovering predator on prey vigilance. 8th Natural History of the Gila Symposium, Silver City, New Mexico, USA. February 2020
Farley, Z., J.W. Cain III, N.M. Tatman, S.G. Liley, J.C deVos, and J. Avey. 2020. Assessing the impacts of a recovering predator population on prey behavior. 53rd Joint Annual Meeting of the Arizona/New Mexico Chapters of The Wildlife Society, Prescott, Arizona, USA. February 2020
Farley, Z., J.W. Cain III, N.M. Tatman, S.G. Liley, J.C deVos, and J. Avey. 2021. Assessing the impacts of the recovering Mexican wolf population on elk behavior. 14th Biennial Deer and Elk Workshop. Online Virtual. August 2021
Farley, Z., J.W. Cain III, N.M. Tatman, S.G. Liley, J.C deVos, and J. Avey. 2022. Influence of predation risk from the recovering Mexican wolf population on elk behavior. 101st Annual Meeting of the American Society of Mammalogists, Tucson, Arizona, USA . June 2022
Thompson, C.J., J.W. Cain III, N.M. Tatman, S.G. Liley, J.C deVos, and J. Avey. 2020. Influence of Mexican wolves on elk resource selection. 53rd Joint Annual Meeting of the Arizona/New Mexico Chapters of The Wildlife Society, Prescott, Arizona, USA. February 2020
Thompson, C.J., J.W. Cain III, N.M. Tatman, S.G. Liley, J.C deVos, and J. Avey. 2020. Influence of Mexican wolves on elk resource selection. 8th Natural History of the Gila Symposium, Silver City, New Mexico, USA. February 2020
Thompson, C.J., J.W. Cain III, N.M. Tatman, S.G. Liley, J.C deVos, and J. Avey. 2021. Influence of Mexican wolves on elk resource selection 14th Biennial Deer and Elk Workshop. Online Virtual. August 2021
Thompson, C.J., J.W. Cain III, N.M. Tatman, S.G. Liley, J.C deVos, and J. Avey. 2022. Evaluating predation risk from Mexican gray wolves on elk habitat selection. 29th Annual Conference of The Wildlife Society, Spokane, Washington. November 2022
Theses and Dissertations Publication Date
Farley, Z. 2022. Influence of Mexican gray wolves on elk behavior in relation to maternal constraints, multitasking, and predation risk. M.S. Thesis. Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Ecology, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces. 117 pp. May 2022
Thompson, C.J. 2022. Elk habitat selection in response to predation risk from Mexican gray wolves. M.S. Thesis. Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Conservation Ecology, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces. 112 pp. July 2022