Elk Being Tracked with GPS in Grand Canyon to Understand their Interaction with Visitors

26 Sep 2018

The Grand Canyon National Park is home to several large herds of elk. These incredible animals were not originally native to the area, but the park provides a certain level of protection for both animals and plants that often draws animals to make their homes there. Elk are increasingly moving into the park, but they are also interacting with people within the Village and park more often as well.

Wildlife biologists have decided to utilize GPS tracking technology in an attempt to gain deeper insights about the animals and their movements throughout the park. Researchers aim to put the tracking devices on ten adult elk before October. Next, they will track, collect and store data about each elk’s movement. They plan on analyzing the information they learn and using it to develop an informed elk management plan for the park.

Visitors of the park are asked to remain at least 100 feet, or two bus lengths, away from elk. When elk and humans interact too closely, dangerous or negative situations can occur. Sometimes when an animal or human is injured in the park, the animal will need to be euthanized. Researchers hope the data they gather will result in management plans that keep elk and humans separated.

Scientists explained that they will only be selecting adult elk that weigh at least 300 pounds for the study. The GPS tracking collars will be attached to the animal’s neck, but they will not cause any harm to the creature.

Each collar is a significant two pounds. Biologists reassure us that two pounds is still less than one percent of the elk’s overall weight, so it won’t be disturbing for the animal. After two years, these collars are set to simply detach and fall to the ground.

Biologists will locate the collars using the GPS feature and collect them upon their release. The Elk will not need to be recaptured to have the devices removed.


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