March 19, 2008
Lesley A. Collins,
BLM partners with WGFD and Industry
on Fortification Creek Elk Study
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Buffalo Field Office in cooperation with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD), University of Wyoming, area land owners, and several coalbed natural gas companies is planning a four-year study of elk in the Fortification Creek area of Campbell County, Wyo. This study will be initiated by the end of March, 2008 and begin with the collaring of 39 elk that will be monitored as part of the study.
The herd of approximately 230 elk currently occupies a plains type environment in the Fortification Creek Area. Increased development in coalbed natural gas (CBNG) near the area is a concern to BLM, WGFD, as well as hunters, outfitters, and land owners in the area.
Project objectives for the Fortification Creek Elk Study include monitoring elk movements in relation to CBNG development to analyze the impacts from CBNG, as well as evaluating disturbance potentially caused by traffic levels, noise, and habitat loss.
Industry is assisting with funding a portion of the study: Anadarko Petroleum has purchased 39 elk collars, Marathon/Pennaco is paying for the capture operation, and Petro-Canada is assisting with funding the data collection.
The University of Wyoming’s School of Energy Resources is also assisting in the study in a PhD level research project of the elk herd. The research will focus on evaluating disturbance mechanisms to the elk herd such as traffic levels, noise, habitat loss, etc. They hope to identify the impact threshold where CBNG and elk are compatible.
“Learning elk seasonal ranges, migration routes, habitat use patterns, and population parameters provides agencies and industry with information to develop energy resources in a manner that is environmentally sensitive to elk,” noted Buffalo Field Office Manager Chris Hanson. “This project will provide multiple benefits for everyone involved.”
For more information contact Tom Bills, 307-684-1133.