Andrew, Jerry D. 1974. Natural Mortality Factors of Elk at Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota. 28 p.
A description of research conducted under a National Science Foundation Undergraduate Research Participation Program in Wind Cave National Park, South Dakota from 25 May to 22 August, 1974. Since their reintroduction in 1914, elk (Cervus canadensis nelsoni Bailey) populations have flourished at Wind Cave National Park. Driving and baiting elk out of the park proved unsuccessful and adverse public response to shooting soon eliminated that control method. Finally, trapping was initiated as the best all-around control method. This study was done to determine the amount of predation and the occurrence of diseases and parasites in the elk population of Wind Cave National Park and to see if these natural mortality factors play any significant role in controlling the population. The mjor objectives of the study were to: 1) Determine whether a helicopter would be feasible in locating and capturing elk calves. 2) Search on foot for new-born elk calves from May 25 to the end of the calving season. 3) Capture elk calves, collect blood and stool samples, and mark them with ear-streamer so that they could be observed during the summer. 4)Capture adult elk, collect blood and stool samples, and mark them with colored collars so that they could be observed during the summer. 5) Conduct necropsies on any dead elk and collect blood and tissue samples for analysis of disease and parasites. 6) Obtain fresh elk fecal samples and analyze them for intestinal parasites. 7) Collect coyote scats and check them for the occurance of elk hair. 8) Obtain hematological parameters of Wind Cave elk for comparison with those reported in the literature. Since very little research has been done on elk in the Black Hills, any information resutling from this study will be helpful in managing elk in the Black Hills.