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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Elk Population Assessment in Western States and Canadian Provinces

Authors
item Vermeire, Lance
item Wallace, Mark - TEXAS TECH UNIV
item Mitchell, Robert

Submitted to: Rangelands
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: August 26, 2004
Publication Date: October 20, 2004
Citation: Vermeire, L.T., Wallace, M.C., Mitchell, R. 2004. Elk population assessment in western states and Canadian provinces. Rangelands 26:29-33.

Interpretive Summary: Elk populations are locally dense and growing throughout much of the western United States and Canada. Maintaining a balance between large elk herds and healthy rangelands requires accurate elk population estimates. We surveyed 16 wildlife agencies in the western U.S. and Canada to determine which elk population estimation techniques were applied, how the obtained estimates were used, and the levels of accuracy achieved and desired. All of the organizations use indices to derive population estimates and most are using incomplete counts and modeling. Surveys are typically conducted at least annually under conditions of snow cover. The primary reasons for obtaining estimates were to determine harvest goals and respond to political pressure. Averaged across agencies, estimate errors were reported at 23% and getting within 17% of the true population was desired.

Technical Abstract: Elk populations are locally dense and growing throughout much of the western United States and Canada. Maintaining a balance between large elk herds and healthy rangelands requires accurate elk population estimates. We surveyed 16 wildlife agencies in the western U.S. and Canada to determine which elk population estimation techniques were applied, how the obtained estimates were used, and the levels of accuracy achieved and desired. All of the organizations use indices to derive population estimates and most are using incomplete counts and modeling. Surveys are typically conducted at least annually under conditions of snow cover. The primary reasons for obtaining estimates were to determine harvest goals and respond to political pressure. Averaged across agencies, estimate errors were reported at 23% and getting within 17% of the true population was desired.

Last Modified: 7/24/2014
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