Identifying sites for elk restoration in Arkansas

Journal of Wildlife Management
By: , and 



We used spatial data to identify potential areas for elk (Cervus elaphus) restoration in Arkansas. To assess habitat, we used locations of 239 elk groups collected from helicopter surveys in the Buffalo National River area of northwestern Arkansas, USA, from 1992 to 2002. We calculated the Mahalanobis distance (D2) statistic based on the relationship between those elk-group locations and a suite of 9 landscape variables to evaluate winter habitat in Arkansas. We tested model performance in the Buffalo National River area by comparing the D2 values of pixels representing areas with and without elk pellets along 19 fixed-width transects surveyed in March 2002. Pixels with elk scat had lower D2 values than pixels in which we found no pellets (logistic regression: Wald χ2 = 24.37, P < 0.001), indicating that habitat characteristics were similar to those selected by the aerially surveyed elk. Our D2 model indicated that the best elk habitat primarily occurred in northern and western Arkansas and was associated with areas of high landscape heterogeneity, heavy forest cover, gently sloping ridge tops and valleys, low human population density, and low road densities. To assess the potential for elk–human conflicts in Arkansas, we used the analytical hierarchy process to rank the importance of 8 criteria based on expert opinion from biologists involved in elk management. The biologists ranked availability of forage on public lands as having the strongest influence on the potential for elk–human conflict (33%), followed by human population growth rate (22%) and the amount of private land in row crops (18%). We then applied those rankings in a weighted linear summation to map the relative potential for elk–human conflict. Finally, we used white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) densities to identify areas where success of elk restoration may be hampered due to meningeal worm (Parelaphostrongylus tenuis) transmission. By combining results of the 3 spatial data layers (i.e., habitat model, elk–human conflict model, deer density), our model indicated that restoration sites located in west-central and north-central Arkansas were most favorable for reintroduction.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Identifying sites for elk restoration in Arkansas
Series title Journal of Wildlife Management
DOI 10.2193/2005-673
Volume 71
Issue 5
Year Published 2007
Language English
Publisher Wildlife Society
Contributing office(s) Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
Description 11 p.
First page 1393
Last page 1403
Country United States
State Arkansas
Other Geospatial Buffalo National River
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
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