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

35 Scopus citations


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
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2003


  • 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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