Elk Home Range Size and Movements in the Glass Mountains, Texas

Following the extinction of Merriam elk (Cervus elaphus merriami) in the early 20th century, Rocky Mountain elk (C. e. nelsoni) were reintroduced into the Trans-Pecos region of Texas beginning in 1927.  Most research on elk has been collected in moderately moist, forested areas; therefore minimal data exists on elk in arid lands. 

We used radio-telemetry monitoring to determine elk home range and movements in the Glass Mountains, Texas.  A total of 9,357 locations was collected.  Average home range size for bulls was 63,000 acres and cows averaged 38,000 acres.  On average, GPS-collared bull elk moved 1.8 miles/day. 

Home ranges and movements in the Glass Mountains are comparable to previous studies in arid environments suggesting that home ranges increase with decreasing food availability.  Due to the large home ranges, it is not possible to effectively manage elk within each individual property.  Because elk in Texas do not have a regulated harvest, we suggest forming a wildlife cooperative management program in efforts to successfully manage elk herds in the Trans-Pecos.

elk

Bull elk movements were greatest during the month of September, which corresponds with the rut season, and April, which may be explained by the fact that it is one of the driest times of year and therefore elk may be going to water more frequently.

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Home ranges for all collared elk in the Glass Mountains.  Some elk traveled through over 9 properties over the course of the study..