There will now be GPS collars deployed on elk and mule deer in Colorado.
The goal is to be able to track these animals along Colorado’s Front Range by using this satellite technology. The decision to start the study is the result of years of collaboration between Colorado Parks and Wildlife, Jefferson and Boulder counties, U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The deer and elk will range anywhere from the Wyoming border to South Park. Private, state and federal land are open to the project.
The goal of the study, according to CPW, is to be able to identify mule deer and elk’s seasonal ranges, migration zones, and habitats.
A crew will use helicopter net guns to hold the animals while people on the ground are responsible for immobilization. After the GPS collars are installed, CPW will be able to track the animals for three to five years.
Scientists will receive email notifications to keep up to date.
If an animal tagged dies during the study, biologists will then determine the cause of death. They will also collect samples from the carcass.
The goal is really to understand, manage, and assist the future of Colorado’s most popular and abundant animals.
Cameron Peak Fire
After the Cameron Peak Fire happened in Colorado from August to December, biologists kept a closer eye on elk herds.
The wildfire impacted 208,913 acres in Larimer County and it is the largest fire to burn in Colorado ever.
A past study installed GPS collars on some elk in the region. The goal of the previous study was to track herds along the Laramie River Valley, Red Feather Lakes, and the Cherokee State Wildlife Area. The elk herds are adjusting to the fire.
“The elk that we saw today actually summered up where the Cameron Peak Fire burned in the Comanche Peak Wilderness, Long Draw area and up in Dead Man. What we saw today is that the fire didn’t inhibit them from actually getting to their wintering ground and we saw some pretty good calf recruitment. We did see healthy animals on the ground, so the fire didn’t seem to affect them health-wise,” CPW biologist Angelique Curtis said after classifying 4,200 elk during a helicopter flight.
There is still a chance for the burned area to develop a wildlife habitat by the spring.