Elk (Cervus elaphus) abundance has recently increased at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, New Mexico. The Refuge’s primary management objective is to provide habitat and food for waterfowl and sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis) that overwinter at the Refuge or use it during their migration. To provide an adequate amount of nutrition for the birds, corn fields are planted on the refuge. Elk are believed to be depredating the corn crops, thereby interrupting the Refuge’s management strategy. The objectives of this study are to investigate elk movement patterns, habitat use, and survival, and depredation of corn by elk. To examine these factors, we are marking and tracking adult elk with radio- or GPS collars. We will monitor collared elk into November 2013 to estimate cause-specific mortality rates, their habitat preferences, and their seasonal and temporal movement patterns. We will also estimate crop damage due to elk and recruitment rates of elk calves into the adult population. Refuge staff will use results of this study to adjust their management practices and establish a harvest plan to manage elk abundance. The intended outcome will be to minimize the amount of crop damage by elk on the Refuge.
Ryan M. DeVore, Department of Natural Resources Management, Texas Tech University, P.O. Box 42125, Lubbock, TX 79409, Warren B. Ballard, Department of Natural Resources Management, Texas Tech University, P.O. Box 42125, Lubbock, TX 79409, Matthew J. Butler, Division of Biological Services, National Wildlife Refuge System, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 1306, Albuquerque, NM 87103, Stewart Liley, New Mexico Game and Fish, One Wildlife Way, Santa Fe, NM 87507, Ashley Inslee, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 280, San Antonio, NM 87832, John Vradenburg, Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 280, San Antonio, NM 87832