Wildlife populations across the United States are benefiting from improved wildlife management techniques. However, these benefits also create new challenges including overpopulation, disease, increased winter kill, and forage degradation. These issues have become the challenges for natural resource managers and landowners. Specifically, elk (Cervus elaphus) populations in the Gunnison River Valley of Colorado are growing and causing increased resource damage on public and private lands. On public lands elk threaten sage grouse habitat and compete with domestic livestock for available forage; on private lands they diminish available livestock forage. Management of elk and elk habitat in this area is a scared responsibility of the NPS (Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Curecanti National Recreation Area), BLM (Uncompahgre Field Office), USFS (Gunnison National Forest), and the CDOW (Colorado Division of Wildlife). All of these agencies participate in this research and adaptive management project.
One key issue in the Black Mesaa??Black Canyon area is the interaction between motorized vehicles and. The working hypothesis for this study is that the early season elk movement onto private lands and the National Park is precipitated by increased use of Off Highway Vehicles (OHVa??s). Data on intensity of motorized use is extremely limited. In this study, we monitor intensity of motorized vehicle and trail use on elk movements and habitat usage and analyze interactions. If management agencies decide to alter accessibility, we will monitor wildlife responses to changes in the human-use regime. This provides a unique opportunity for adaptive management experimentation based on coordinated research and monitoring. The products for this project will provide natural resource manages across the nation with tools and information to better meet these resource challenges.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Public access management as an adaptive wildlife management tool