The Scenic Drives in the North and South Units may be closed due to winter weather conditions. For current road status, click on the link below: More »
North Unit Road Closure
The North Unit Scenic Drive will be closed at the Caprock Coulee parking area while repairs are in progress. Repairs may be delayed because of weather conditions, but are expected to be completed by May 15.
Park Elk Population Estimated to be Less Than 900
Contact: Bill Whitworth, 701-623-4466
Results of an elk survey conducted in January show the number of elk in the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park to be just under 900 animals.
Although the park objective for elk in the South Unit is about 400, the higher numbers are not currently causing measureable changes in the park vegetation or environment.
“The park habitat can support more elk than the target number,” said Superintendent Valerie Naylor. “We set our objective conservatively to allow for drought or other poor environmental conditions. This gives us a buffer for times when the population is high.”
The park conducts an aerial elk survey every year. The survey is conducted in winter, when the highest numbers of elk are within park boundaries and when snow cover allows for better sightability.
“As with any survey of wildlife, the count obtained is not the exact number in the park, rather it is a very good approximation at the time it was flown,” said Naylor. “When we consider harvest from the past two hunting seasons outside park boundaries, this year’s survey is consistent with our previous estimates.”
During the survey, which was conducted January 20-22, biologists observed 622 elk in 91 different groups. The estimated, or corrected number, is 878 elk and is based on a sightability model that corrects for elk that may not be observed during the survey.
“The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has adjusted hunting seasons outside the park, which has helped to keep the elk population from growing substantially over the last few years,” said Naylor. “We appreciate their willingness to adjust their elk management practices.”
The park is currently considering alternatives to reduce the number of elk in the park. The park’s Elk Management Plan/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) is out for 90-day public review until March 19.
Did You Know?
Cannonball concretions can be found along the North Unit Scenic Drive. They were formed by the selective precipitation of mineral-rich groundwater and are nearly spherical because the sandstone in which sand grains were cemented together was of uniform permeability. More...