elk re-introduction

Luigi Morgantini lmorgant at rr.ualberta.ca
Thu Dec 29 02:18:28 EST 1994

In article <3dqeog$2n8 at nnrp.ucs.ubc.ca>, hammond at unixg.ubc.ca (Blair Hammond) says:
>I am considering getting involved with an elk (wapiti) re-introduction 
>project on Vancouver Island.  I would be interested in hearing about 
>other restoration attempts that have been made.  Literature references 
>would also be welcome.

The capture and relocation of elk is quite a common practice 
in North America that goes back to the late 1800's.  
There have been many successful re-introductions and as many failures.
Success will depend on many factors: habitat suitability 
(nothing to do with HSIs!), overall environmental conditions as they
may affect reproductive success, age and sex of the animals, 
the presence of predators, poaching, etc. etc.  All these factors 
will shape the dispersal of the animals from the release site: 
they may remain in the general area (at least some of them) or they may 
move a long way.  Clearly, the number of animals that remain 
in the release site will determine the success of the re-introduction
(a small number may not be sufficient to ensure the establishment of 
a self-sustaining herd, even more so if there is some predation).

On a small island, the dispersal is evidently constrained. 
But, Vancouver Island is not small.  And, to my knowledge, 
there are already elk there.  Hence the re-introduction 
that you are mentioning likely refers to the re-introduction
of animals in a specific region.  In that context, 
the success of the re-introduction will be measured by the establishment 
of a self-sustaining herd in that area.  

Even though I know of and I have been involved in many projects,
there is not much published in the refereed literature.  
I suggest you conduct a literature search from the UBC library. 
Also, it may be advisable, if you have not done it yet, to refer to 
the book "Elk of North America: Ecology and Management" 
(1982. J.W. Thomas and D.E. Toweill. Stackpole Books 698pp.). 
Considering how much our understanding of elk ecology and behaviour
has improved over the last 13 years, the book is a bit old,
but still a great compendium of knowledge.

Stussy, Edge and O'Neil very recently published a more recent paper 
(Wildl.Soc.Bull. 22:242-247; 1994) that you may want to look at.

Luigi Morgantini
Dept.of Renewable Resources
University of Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.
lmorgant at rr.ualberta.ca

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