Wind-power development is occurring throughout North America, but its effects on mammals are largely unexplored. Our objective was to determine response (i.e., home-range, diet quality) of Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus) to wind-power development in southwestern Oklahoma. Ten elk were radiocollared in an area of wind-power development on 31 March 2003 and were relocated bi-weekly through March 2005. Wind-power construction was initiated on 1 June 2003 and was completed by December 2003 with 45 active turbines. The largest composite home range sizes (>80 km2) occurred April-June and September, regardless of the status of wind-power facility development. The smallest home range sizes (<50 km2) typically occurred in October-February when elk aggregated to forage on winter wheat. No elk left the study site during the study and elk freely crossed the gravel roads used to access the wind-power facility. Carbon and nitrogen isotopes and percent nitrogen in feces suggested that wind-power development did not affect nutrition of elk during construction. Although disturbance and loss of some grassland habitat was apparent, elk were not adversely affected by wind-power development as determined by home range and dietary quality.
Additional publication details
Response of Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus) to wind-power development