01-27-14 Elk Field Note

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01-27-14 Elk Field Note

January 27, 2014

Teagan Hayes describes elk herd movements across the winter landscape.

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Elk monitoring update January 24, 2013

A herd of 453 elk bedded down under the powerlines north of Baldy Draw. As afternoon approached, this group moved north across Davis Creek and grew to 469. Cow elk and young bulls make up the majority of these large herds. For this group, the safety of large open space trumps forage quality or availability. As group size increases, the probability of predation for an individual elk decreases. This group is the largest observed since March 20, 2013 when we counted 480 elk.

On January 9, we observed 276 elk in 4 different groups on MPG and the Sapphire Ranch. A group of 8 bulls moved up out of Davis Creek before the sun began to spill over the Bitterroot Mountains. Farther west, 111 elk found a secure place on the ridge to spend the day. Around mid-morning, 8 spikes split from the larger group and began moving east toward the other bachelors. Mature bulls often spend the entire winter at higher elevations than cows and younger bulls.

After several hours spent lying down, elk rise slowly and stretch their limbs awake. Now they are ready for a fast getaway.

29 elk began the following day, January 10, in the same location before moving east.

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