Behavioral responses of male elk to hunting risk

Joshua B. Smith, Derek B. Spitz, Casey L. Brown, Michael J. Wisdom, Mary M. Rowland, Tavis D. Forrester, Bruce K. Johnson, Darren A. Clark
2022 Journal of Wildlife Management  
Prey respond to predation risk with a range of behavioral tactics that can vary based on space use and hunting mode of the predator. Unlike other predators, human hunters are often more spatially and temporally restricted, which creates a period of short-duration, high-intensity predation risk for prey. Consequently, identifying the roles different hunting modes (i.e., archery and rifle), hunts for targeted and non-targeted species, and landscape features play in altering spatial and temporal
more » ... sponses of prey to predation risk by humans is important for effective management of harvested populations. From 2009 to 2016, we used a large-scale experiment including 50 animal-years of location data from 38 unique male elk (Cervus canadensis) to quantify changes in movement and resource selection in response to hunters during 3 separate 5-day controlled hunts for antlered males (elk archery, deer [Odocoileus spp.] rifle, and elk rifle) at the Starkey Experimental Forest and Range in northeast Oregon, USA. We evaluated competing hypotheses regarding elk responses to varying levels of prey risk posed by the different hunt types. We predicted that the strength of elk behavioral responses would increase with perceived hunter lethality (i.e., weak response to elk archery but similar response to elk and deer rifle hunts) and that prey response would be closely associated with hunter activity within the diel cycle (greater during diurnal than nocturnal hours) and across hunting seasons. Elk responses were
doi:10.1002/jwmg.22174 fatcat:ipazxduyo5g65ecyyapd577udy