Elk (Cervus canadensis) have been successfully translocated to 11 states in the United States and 1 Canadian province in eastern North America. Availability of suitable habitat is an important factor in determining the success of relocations, but there is limited information on habitat selection of elk in eastern deciduous forests. Our objective was to determine resource selection of male and female elk recently translocated in the Ozark Mountains, Missouri, USA. We placed global positioning system (GPS) collars on all translocated adult elk. We modeled seasonal resource selection as a function of 9 habitat-related covariates using a hierarchical Bayesian discrete choice model. Forage openings (cultivated fields providing forage for wildlife), glades, and cool-season grasslands (pastures) had high probabilities of elk use. Areas with vegetation type heterogeneity, low canopy cover, and far from paved roads but close to 2-track roads also had high probabilities of elk use. The availability of open lands, such as glades, pastures, and forage openings, appears to be important for elk in all seasons in forest-dominated landscapes and may help encourage site fidelity following translocation and reduce conflict with private property as the population becomes established. Managers of elk populations in similar ecosystems should ensure sufficient availability of open lands, which might be met through maintenance of forage openings and restoration of natural open lands. Additionally, restoration efforts can benefit from post-translocation monitoring that allows managers to improve upon externally derived habitat models through a process of adaptive restoration planning and habitat management.
- Cervus canadensis
- resource selection