There are 11 known different elk herds that migrate across the vast Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. Researchers currently have their sights set on one of them whose migration pattern is not yet fully documented.
“If you look at that map there’s this gaping hole in the southwestern corner of Yellowstone,” Aly Courtemanch, biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, told the Jackson Hole News & Guide. “We’ve suspected that there’s likely a migration there, and so the whole purpose of the project is to fill that gap.”
“We don’t have objectives right now beyond making sure that herd isn’t slipping through the cracks,” Arthur Middleton, University of California-Berkeley researcher, told the Jackson Hole News & Guide. “We want to get the Targhee Herd on the map, and then in the future be able to include that herd in our analyses of the broader ecology and conservation needs of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem elk.”
Researchers hope to place 30 GPS collars on elk and monitor their movements. The work is taking place in the Teton Valley approximately 35 miles west of the Teton Range.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is providing partial funding for the study.
Visitors to RMEF headquarters in Missoula, Montana, can also see a new, interactive exhibit that highlights the migrations of the nine different previously studied elk herds across the Greater Yellowstone Area.
(Photo source: RMEF)