Resource Ramblings 2005-03
Easter Daisies at Easter Time
Claude A. Barr, in his book Jewels of the Plains, provided a glimpse of the beauty of the Townsend’s Easter daisy. Wintering as a completely evergreen bun of narrow leaves close to the ground, and guarding its quota of autumn-set buds, Townsendia exscapa joyously responds to the gentle light and warmth of early spring with wide disks and short rays of soft gold and glowing light pink,” he wrote, adding, “In the garden it is necessary to fence T. exscapa from rabbits when green feed is scarce.”
Townsend’s Easter daisy is one of three species of Easter daisies known to occur in southwestern South Dakota. Two of the species have been observed at Wind Cave National Park, and are listed as species of concern with the South Dakota Natural Heritage Program. Neither species is considered threatened or endangered. It is important, however, to monitor changes in occurrence or range for these species, to help prevent the need to upgrade their designations to rare or imperiled in the future.
Hopefully the current drought, and an apparent increase in the local rabbit population, will not lead to a decrease in daisies at the park this spring.
Prairie Dog Management Plan Update
Internal and public scoping meetings have been conducted and the comment period is open until March 15, 2005 for general public comments on the information presented. Comments will be incorporated into the draft WICA Prairie Dog Management Plan/EA. The timeframe for this project is for the draft Plan/EA ready for public review by early August. The final Plan/EA and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) are planned for completion in November 2005.
Elk Monitoring Project
A total of 54 elk were radio-collared the last week of January 2005 by Leading Edge Aviation from Clarkston, Washington. Duane Weber is monitoring these elk to make sure they are alive and moving, as one study animal has been found dead. The GPS unit in each collar collects and stores location data. A separate vhf signal allows Duane to track each animal and make sure the collars have not gone into mortality mode (a change in the beep frequency) indicating the collar has not moved for a pre-determined number of hours. If this is detected, the elk is probably dead. Using the vhf signal, Duane can determine the location of each elk and move in to check on its status. If the elk is dead Duane will try and determine the cause of death, evaluate overall health at the time of death, and collect tissue samples for CWD testing. Samples will be sent to the NPS Biological Resource Management Division in Fort Collins, who has the samples tested for CWD at Colorado State University. Results of the sampled tissue usually take 2-4 weeks.
As can be seen, the collars are brown in color and blend in with the hair on an elk's neck. If you do see an elk with a collar please report it to Resource Management.
Comments and feedback about Resource Ramblings are encouraged and can be made to Dan Foster, in person, or via email.