Elk Monitoring Project (Elk POP II)
July 2010 - June 2013
- Wyoming Game and Fish Department
Rocky Mountain elk is an important game species in Wyoming and elsewhere in the West. Many efforts of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (i.e., harvest, habitat enhancement, feeding) are focused on monitoring and managing elk in the state. The survey, data collection, and modeling protocols in place within WGFD have evolved over the years but may not be currently optimized to allow efficient management of elk under current fiscal, logistical, or environmental constraints. Regionally (in the West) there is a call for standardizing data collection and sharing of ungulate monitoring data to enable needed regional analyses such as those addressing climate change or habitat alteration. The primary objectives of the project are to: i) evaluate sources of uncertainty in elk population models, ii) determine the sensitivity of elk population models to variation in vital rates and extrinsic drivers, iii) evaluate the effectiveness of different types of elk monitoring programs, including population surveys and survival studies, and iv) develop parameter estimation procedures to best characterize elk population dynamics given various sources of field data from annual monitoring. The study will primarily involve state monitoring data and vital rate estimates from existing studies and the literature. Once a basic framework is in place, this project may be expanded to examine other ungulate species that are monitored by the WGFD.