Demographic characteristics of a reintroduced elk population in Kentucky

Jeffery L. Larkin, David S. Maehr, John J. Cox, David C. Bolin, Michael W. Wichrowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus citations

Abstract

We used radiotelemetry and field observations to study survival and reproduction of 718 reintroduced elk (Cervus elaphus) in eastern Kentucky, USA, from 1997 to 2001. Capture-related injuries accounted for 49% of the transit and post-release mortality. Annual survival was high across all age and sex classes, and ranged from 0.90 (adult females) to 0.97 (yearling females). Calving rates increased from 66% in 1998 to 92% in 2000. A high nutritional plane may explain the relatively high reproduction among females bred as yearlings, consecutive-year pregnancies, and twinning. Such high survival and reproductive rates are characteristic of colonizing ungulate populations in areas devoid of predators and competitors. Future research should focus on Kentucky-born calves to more accurately determine the effects of meningeal worm (Parelaphostrongylus tenuis) and other factors on recruitment, colonization, and population establishment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-476
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Wildlife Management
Volume67
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2003

Keywords

  • Cervus elaphus
  • Demographics
  • Elk
  • Irruptive oscillation
  • Kentucky
  • Mortality
  • Reintroduction
  • Reproduction
  • Restoration
  • Survival
  • Translocation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation

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