The Roosevelt elk can be found in BC on Vancouver Island and parts of the south coast. They are significant to the ecology as they serve as prey for predators as well as influence plant phenology and pathways through their browsing. First Nations are interested in extending their traditional use of the Roosevelt elk. Many First Nations are within the Roosevelt elk range. The elk are used for ceremonial, cultural and subsistence use and in many areas it exceeds sustainability. However, many First Nations support the increase of the elk populations. They are more than 15,000 applications per year to hunt the elk and they are very popular for wildlife viewing. This serves as economic benefit to the Province, regions and communities. Roosevelt elk are on the Provincial Blue List which specifies Special Concern as well as ranked as Vulnerable to Apparently Secure by the Conservation Data Centre.
The Roosevelt elk is a generalist herbivore that browses or grazes on a diversity of different shrubs, grasses, forbs, trees and sedges. They are usually in herds of adult females, calves and juveniles of both genders. The males are normally alone or in bachelor groups.
Elk populations are usually monitored in late winter or early spring. The area that is surveyed depends on funding and priority. The hunting of Roosevelt elk is also strictly regulated and monitored. It is important to determine hunter success when it comes to sustainable elk harvest. Next to population and harvest management the habitat management is another significant part when it comes to the Roosevelt elk. Population targets, carrying capacity and other variables all depend on the capability of habitats to support the species. Ensuring safety for not only the Roosevelt elk but also for humans is very critical. The elk can cause accidents when being near highways, create conflicts for agriculture when they are being attracted to the crops and be a problem for industrial forestry. The industrial forestry can either help the elk by creating enough light to increase forage capability or leave the forest with poor forage conditions. Even though forestry might create more forage, the removal of the elk’s cover leaves them vulnerable to predators.
Objectives and Strategies
Objectives concerning conservation are to maintain self-sustaining populations of the species, re-establish the population in historic areas where the conditions are suitable and maintain their contribution to the biodiversity. The use of Roosevelt Elk should stay within ecological limits and give opportunities for consumptive and non-consumptive use over a longer period. Other objectives include to lessen the risk of collisions with elk on the highways, decrease the damage on crops and the conflicts in forestry.
Strategies include monitoring the population and hunting, translocation and habitat management.
Some of the strategies in the management plan for Roosevelt Elk in British Columbia are limited by the availability of the data. For example hunters that don’t report their hunt correctly, errors that occur in inventory assessments or limitations by funding are all issues associated with data availability.
The habitat modelling technique could be refined to be able to inform about the carrying capacity. Other recommendations include to get more funding for monitoring and inventory projects, revise the population targets and determine suitable winter ranges and work on protecting more habitat.
The elk is important in various aspects to nature and community. Populations and suitable habitats need to be monitored. Elk can cause damage and can be dangerous is some situations. Here it is important to protect humans as well as animals and ensure that forestry and agriculture are not affected too much by the Roosevelt elk.
- Source BC Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations. July 2014. A Management Plan for Roosevelt Elk in British Columbia - Draft. Available at : http://www.env.gov.bc.ca/fw/wildlife/management-issues/docs/roosevelt_elk_management_plan_draft_July_2014.pdf [Accessed 03/2021].