Date of Award
Master of Science
Natural Resource Ecology and Management
W. S. Fairbanks
We examined winter habitat selection by elk wintering in the Buffalo Valley of Wyoming despite the accessible option of supplemental feed at the National Elk Refuge (~15 km away). Projects have been implemented in the Buffalo Valley to improve native winter habitat in an effort to reduce elk dependency on supplemental feed in winter. We assessed winter habitat selection by female elk at the study area scale and the home range scale with respect to burned and unburned habitat and, in one year, supplemental feed. When feeding was present during February-April 2006, elk were more likely to place their home ranges nearer to feeding than random and these home ranges included no prescribed burn areas that were less than 5 years old. In the absence of supplemental feed, elk placed their home ranges in areas that were closer to roads than random, included more riparian habitat, lower snow water equivalents, high solar radiation indices, and in one November-January time period, more mid-age burn areas. Within home range selection was highly variable among individual elk and population-level interpretation of within home range selection could not be determined. Five of 11 (~45%) females wintered at least one winter season (out of 2 or 3) somewhere other than the Buffalo Valley. Elk appeared to have little attraction in winter to recently burned
areas in past years. The results of this study, at the larger scale, may be used to evaluate potential geographic locations for future habitat treatments to accomplish desired results.
Francis Drew Henry
Henry, Francis Drew, "Elk winter habitat selection and movements in the Buffalo Valley of Wyoming with respect to habitat treatments and supplemental feeding" (2009). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 10797.