Photo by Kim Poole

Sparwood elk study reveals impacts of human activity

The Sparwood and District Fish and Wildlife Association is proud to announce the publication of a major study on elk migration in the science journal Conservation Science and Practice. The club collaborated with researcher and lead author Kim Poole to complete the research and support his work through to publication. 

We are a small club, but we’ve stepped up to do the science and look for answers to unanswered questions,” said Past President Matt Huryn. 

The project collared 78 cow elk and followed their survival, death, and migratory patterns in the Elk Valley from 2016 to 2022. Compared to a 1980s study, a similar percent of elk migrated (about half) but migratory elk made fewer and shorter movements into upper mountain tributaries, and greater use of coal mine properties. Collisions with vehicles and trains, starvation, and predators were the main sources of mortality, according to Poole. The study found that the annual mortality rate from collisions averaged 5 per cent.  Signs of nutritional stress and lower pregnancy rates indicated potential forage limitations.  

“The Sparwood club deserves a lot of credit for conceiving this study and they should get huge credit for taking this on,” said Poole. “It really was a group effort.” 

Read, “Migration, movements, and survival in a partially migratory elk (Cervus canadensis) population” by Kim G. Poole, Clayton T. Lamb, Sam Medcalf, Lanny Amos on “Conservation Science and Practice: A journal of the Society for Conservation Biology”.


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