Cause-specific mortality and seasonal survival rates of neonatal elk on the the Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico

Lance J Bernal, Stewart Liley, Sarah R. Kinkschuh, Mark A. Peyton, Robert R Parmenter, Philip Gipson, Mark C Wallace, Warren B Ballard

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Abstract

Abstract: Low calf:cow ratios of elk have been observed on the Valles Caldera National Preserve in northern New Mexico. To investigate the reasons behind low calf:cow ratios, we radio marked elk calves (n =140) born within the VCNP from 2009-2011. We estimated neonatal survival using the known-fate option in Program MARK with a staggered entry design. Predation accounted for 94.8% (n = 55) of the known mortalities (n = 58). Black bears (Ursus americanus) were the primary source of predation (47.3%, n = 26) and overall mortality (40.6%). Coyotes (Canis latrans) were the second highest source of predation (41.8%, n = 23) and overall mortality (35.9%). Estimated late season survival was 0.88 across years (range = 0.79 - 0.96). Annual survival was 0.34 across the three years of the study (range: 0.30-0.37). Our findings and results are comparable to other studies that occurred in similar predator/elk systems as well as more complex predator/elk systems in more northern portions
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Wildlife Society Bulletin
StatePublished - Dec 2014

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    Bernal, L. J., Liley, S., Kinkschuh, S. R., Peyton, M. A., Parmenter, R. R., Gipson, P., Wallace, M. C., & Ballard, W. B. (2014). Cause-specific mortality and seasonal survival rates of neonatal elk on the the Valles Caldera National Preserve, New Mexico. The Wildlife Society Bulletin.