Seasonal movements, habitat use, home range selection, and
group interactions of Roosevelt elk (Cervus elaphus roosevelti)
were studied in the upper White River watershed in west-central
Washington. Over 2000 locations of 14 elk were recorded by
radio-telemetry from April 1983 to December 1984.
During winter, two herds used clearcut lands near the mouth
of the West Fork of the White River (about 610m MSL). One herd
migrated four km to a clearcut spring range at 1070m MSL, whereas
the other remained on the winter range during spring. Both herds
migrated 15 km up river corridors to subalpine parklands within
Mount Rainier National Park where they remained from July to
A third herd wintered in unmanaged old-growth forest within
Mount Rainier National Park along bottomlands of the White River
Valley (915m MSL). That herd then moved 5-10 km upriver toward
summer range during June, and arrived on subalpine summer range
the first week in July. All herds migrated back to winter ranges
via river corridors following heavy snowfall on November 15, 1983
and October 15, 1984. Winter ranges of elk in both the managed and unmanaged
segments of the study area were oriented along the valley
floodplain. Consequently, ranges of elk in the managed forest
contained greater proportions of old-clearcuts (12-30 years) and
alder habitats (which occurred primarily on the floodplains)
than existed in the valley. Preferred old-clearcut habitats
contained a mosaic of dense, regenerating douglas-fir
interspersed with open-canopied foraging areas. Old-growth and
young clearcuts, which were located primarily on upland sites,
were underrepresented in elk home ranges compared to their
availability in the valley. Elk were generally unselective of
habitats within the home range.
On the spring range of one herd, mid-age clearcuts (4-12
years) and young clearcuts (0-4 years) occurred in a greater
proportions than in the valley. Preferred habitats contained
many mesic seeps and draws. Spring range in the unmanaged forests
consisted of old-growth valley bottom habitats.
Habitat preferences of elk varied between two summer ranges
within Mount Rainier National Park. In general, elk preferred
open subalpine forests, Abies lasiocarpa/Valeriana sitchensis
habitat, and alder slide habitats. Additionally, Dry Grass, and
Lush-low Herbaceous habitats tended to be used in proportions
greater than availability.
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