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Wednesday, February 8 • 8:40am - 9:00am
Technical Session. Behavioral Responses of Female Elk to Hunting in Northwest Minnesota

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AUTHORS: Ryan G. Tebo, Gino J. D'Angelo - Farmland Wildlife Research and Populations Group, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Lou Cornicelli, Wildlife Research Program, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: Elk hunting in northwestern Minnesota has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity since its inception in the late 1980’s.  Hunting provides recreation and is believed to reduce agricultural damage caused by elk by altering elk use of the landscape.  The first-ever research on Minnesota’s elk herd began in February 2016 with the capture and GPS-collaring of 20 adult females to study their movements and habitat use.  As an ancillary study, we investigated the behavior of these animals relative to a 9-day hunting season for bull elk with participation by 7 hunters.  We programmed elk GPS collars to take hourly locations before and after the hunting season.  During the 9-day hunting season, locations were increased to 15-minute intervals from 1 hour prior to dawn until 1 hour after dusk, while remaining at hourly locations during the night.  Hunters aided in the research by carrying GPS loggers, which recorded their locations every 15 minutes during all hunting-related activities.  Additionally, hunters documented information about number of elk seen and known encounters with marked individuals on a daily hunt log sheet.  To evaluate whether hunting activities elicited changes in elk behavior, we will compare metrics of elk movements throughout the pre-hunt, hunt, and post-hunt periods, and describe the fine-scale movements of elk relative to the locations of hunters.  This information may aid managers in adjusting elk hunting regulations to improve the effectiveness of hunting as a tool to reduce elk-human conflicts in agricultural areas.

Wednesday February 8, 2017 8:40am - 9:00am CST
Grand Ballroom C