Technology

Wind Cave National Park Uses GPS For Elk Tracking

GPS Satellite Technology Tracks Elk

Earlier this week GPS Tracker Shop editors posted a story about researchers at a Canadian university using real-time GPS collars to monitor moose movement patterns. The study was commissioned in an effort to find out why the moose have increasingly moved into human-occupied areas which is resulting in vehicle accidents along busy highways. GPS tracking technology will hopefully provide Canadian researchers more insight on how and why the moose are moving near busy roadways, but this example is not the only application scientists are using for GPS tracking of animals. In fact, researchers in Wind Cave National Park have just recently launched an experiment where 36 wild elk will be tracked using GPS radio collars.

Researchers at Wind Cave National Park have been trying to learn how a recent elk management was effecting elk behavior. Therefore, in the concluding year of the three-year study, the researchers decided to put real-time GPS collars on selected elk. This particular portion of the study was created so researchers could gain more insight on the movements of elk, mortality rates an the consequences of hunting. Part of the elk management plan involves drop-down gates to be set-up along boundary fences. The function of these gates is to provide elk an avenue to exit the park during the warmer seasons. Once outside of the gates for the warmer seasons, hunters will have the opportunity to harvest the animals who likely are only using the park on a seasonal basis. The gates at this time will be set to raise in order to prevent re-entry to the park for those seasonal elk. The real-time GPS trackers are programmed to monitor elk on a rotating basis. Therefore, some elk will have their locations updated as little as every 7 hours while others will have locational data transmitted four times per hour. Each GPS tracking collar will remain secured to the animal until around the conclusion of the study which is tentatively aimed for the late Winter or early Spring in 2015. When asked about the real-time GPS tracking collars, a representative for the national park explained that the satellite technology will be critical in determine whether or not the elk management plan is actually being effective or not.

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