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Public access management as an adaptive wildlife management tool

January 1, 2005

Wildlife populations across the United States are benefiting from improved wildlife management techniques. However, these benefits also create new challenges including overpopulation, disease, increased winter kill, and forage degradation. These issues have become the challenges for natural resource managers and landowners. Specifically, elk (Cervus elaphus) populations in the Gunnison River Valley of Colorado are growing and causing increased resource damage on public and private lands. On public lands elk threaten sage grouse habitat and compete with domestic livestock for available forage; on private lands they diminish available livestock forage. Management of elk and elk habitat in this area is a shared responsibility of the NPS (Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and Curecanti National Recreation Area), BLM (Uncompahgre Field Office), USFS (Gunnison National Forest), and the CDOW (Colorado Division of Wildlife). All of these agencies participate in this research and adaptive management project.

One key issue in the Black Mesa – Black Canyon area is the interaction between motorized vehicles and. The working hypothesis for this study is that early season elk movement onto private lands and the National Park is precipitated by increased use of Off Highway Vehicles (OHV’s). Data on intensity of motorized use is extremely limited. In this study, we monitor intensity of motorized vehicle and trail use on elk movements and habitat usage and analyze interactions. If management agencies decide to alter accessibility, we will monitor wildlife responses to changes in the human-use regime. This provides a unique opportunity for adaptive management experimentation based on coordinated research and monitoring. The products from this project will provide natural resource managers across the nation with tools and information to better meet these resource challenges.

Publication Year 2005
Title Public access management as an adaptive wildlife management tool
DOI 10.3133/ofr20051349
Authors Douglas S. Ouren, Raymond D. Watts
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Series Title Open-File Report
Series Number 2005-1349
Index ID ofr20051349
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center