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Elk reintroductions

January 1, 1998

Rocky Mountain elk are native to northcentral New Mexico, including the Jemez Mountains, whereas a different subspecies, Merriam’s elk, inhabited southern New Mexico, east-central Arizona, and the Mexican border region (Hall 1981). Merriam’s elk went extinct around 1900 in New Mexico, and native Rocky Mountain elk were extirpated by 1909 (Findley et al. 1975). Although elk were known to early inhabitants of the Jemez Mountains (Fig. 1), elk remains are seldom found in archaeological sites there. Indeed, two of three known elk remains from the Jemez Mountains (Table) came from archaeological sites dating to the late 1880’s, while the third is represented by a single bone tool dated at A.D. 1390 to 1520. This scarcity of elk in archaeological remains suggests that only small, local elk populations were present between A.D. 1150 and A.D. 1600. Elk numbers may have been suppressed by the many ancestral Pueblo people who inhabited the area, as suggested for nearby Arroyo Hondo by Lang and Harris (1984) and for the intermountain West by Kay (1994). The gray wolf, the most important natural predator of elk in the Jemez Mountains, was extirpated from the area by the 1940’s (Findley et al. 1975). Hunting has reduced local populations of another elk predator, the mountain lion (Allen 1989).

Publication Year 1998
Title Elk reintroductions
Authors Craig D. Allen
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70180821
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Fort Collins Science Center