Elk Management in Theodore Roosevelt National Park to Continue With Radio Collaring Operation

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Theodore Roosevelt National Park will begin the maintenance phase of its Elk Management Plan with a radio collaring project in the South Unit on September 12 and 13.

"We have completed the reduction phase of our elk management program," said Superintendent Valerie Naylor. "However, we must continue to monitor and maintain the population. Collaring some of the elk will help us to achieve that goal."

The National Park Service has contracted with Leading Edge Aviation of Lewiston, Idaho, a company specializing in wildlife capture and handling. A specially trained helicopter crew will locate elk and net them from the air. Biologists will place radio collars on the elk and release them immediately. Between 17 and 21 programmable GPS collars will be deployed.

The radio collars, each with a lifespan of five to seven years, will transmit data which will then be used to monitor location and movement of the elk. Park biologists will gain information about the habitats the animals frequent and location data will facilitate population monitoring.

Elk are native to the North Dakota badlands, but were hunted out of much of their former range by the late 1880s. They were reintroduced into the park in 1985. Once reestablished, the population increased due to the availability of good forage, favorable habitat, and the absence of natural predators. The park completed an Environmental Impact Statement for management of the elk population, which was released in August 2009. The reduction phase of the plan, utilizing members of the public working in teams under the direction of park employees, was completed in 2011. Volunteers will not be needed for the maintenance phase of the project.

More information about the Elk Management Plan is available on the park's website at www.nps.gov/thro.