Tag Archive | Elk

Bugling Elk in Wisconsin

Snapshot Saturdays are a weekly feature on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource’s Facebook page. Give them a Like to keep up with recent DNR news and to view the weekly Snapshot Saturdays. 

Wisconsin elk may be a marvel to see, but witnessing the sound of their bugling is an unforgettable experience. Elk begin bugling in late August, and you can hear their bellows through the end of September.

This Snapshot Saturday features a bull elk captured on camera in the Flambeau River State Forest. If you’re near one of the elk reintroduction areas this month, be sure to keep an ear out!

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Interested in hosting your own Snapshot Wisconsin camera? Visit our webpage to find out how to get involved: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/research/projects/snapshot/.

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Elk Monitoring Opportunity

Snapshot Saturdays are a weekly feature on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource’s Facebook page. Give them a Like to keep up with recent DNR news and to view the weekly Snapshot Saturdays. 

Are you curious to see what Wisconsin elk are up to? Get an up-close look at the elk herds in the Flambeau River State Forest, Clam Lake or Black River Falls areas by monitoring a Snapshot Wisconsin trail camera. Trail cameras provide valuable data for herd management and give volunteers a unique window into Wisconsin’s woods.

No experience necessary, all training and equipment are provided. Volunteers must be able to participate for at least one year and check the camera at least once every three months. Submit a volunteer application today at www.SnapshotWIElkSignup.org.

Snapshot Saturday: May 4th, 2019

Trail cameras offer a non-invasive approach to monitor not only animals, but their surrounding habitats as well. In addition to capturing exciting images of wildlife Snapshot Wisconsin cameras are programmed to take a daily time-lapse image at 10:40 a.m.  As part of the project’s phenology research staff members began measuring the greenness in these time-lapse photos to determine when the different “phenophases”, or significant stages in the yearly cycle of a location’s vegetation, are occurring across the state.

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If you have noticed the vegetation around you becoming a little more colorful, that is because much of the state is entering the “greenup” phenophase. This Snapshot Saturday features a Sawyer County elk enjoying spring greenup from May 2018.

Interested in hosting your own Snapshot Wisconsin camera? Visit our webpage to find out how to get involved: https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/research/projects/snapshot/.

Snapshot Saturday: January 19th, 2019

We are throwing it back to sunny summertime for this Snapshot Saturday featuring a Jackson County elk. Happy Snapshot Saturday!

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View and classify photos collected from Snapshot Wisconsin cameras across the state at https://www.SnapshotWisconsin.org.

Snapshot Saturday: December 29th, 2018

An impressive bull elk captured on a Snapshot Wisconsin camera in the Flambeau River State Forest. Happy Snapshot Saturday!

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Interested in hosting your own Snapshot Wisconsin camera? Visit our webpage to find out how to get involved: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/research/projects/snapshot/. Classify photos from all the trail cameras at www.snapshotwisconsin.org.

Bugle Days Rendezvous 2018

M2E35L90-90R391B362The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation hosted their annual Bugle Days Rendezvous this past weekend to celebrate the RMEF volunteers and elk in Wisconsin! This year the event was hosted in the Flambeau River State Forest, one of the sites where elk have been reintroduced in the state. Bugle Days Rendezvous offers RMEF volunteers a unique opportunity to partake in a weekend of “elk camp” including exciting field trips, herd updates, comradery, and importantly the sights and sounds of bugling Wisconsin elk.

Snapshot Wisconsin team members Sarah Cameron and Taylor Peltier were granted the opportunity to partake in the festivities this year, and give a presentation about elk monitoring with Snapshot Wisconsin. Although the two missed out on spotting any early morning elk with the rest of the RMEF, they still were able to witness the sounds of howling wolves, discovered several elk tracks along back roads, and even found a sneaky tree frog hiding behind one of the Snapshot Wisconsin trail cameras they visited. It was a weekend well spent!

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Find out more about the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation in Wisconsin, including upcoming events and how you can get involved!

Black River Falls Fieldwork

On our way up north for a recent outreach event, and I swung through Black River Falls to check two Snapshot Wisconsin cameras deployed for the elk reintroduction project. Black River Falls, located in central Wisconsin, is one of the three locations where Snapshot Wisconsin has a dense network of trail cameras to monitor the reintroduced elk populations. Trail cameras support data needed to make management decisions at the WDNR, all while capturing captivating photos of local wildlife.

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A reintroduced elk, Cervus canadensis, captured on a Snapshot Camera in northern Wisconsin

Being relatively new to the project, this was my first time doing fieldwork – and I couldn’t have been more excited! While our amazing Snapshot volunteers do the majority of fieldwork, we never shy away from an opportunity to get out in the woods as well. We suited up and grabbed our gear: a handheld GPS with coordinates entered for each camera site, swamp boots, bug nets, and camera equipment. We replaced one camera at the previously utilized camera site and moved the other to a better location, free of tall ferns and at the intersection of three wildlife trails. This was great opportunity for me to gain experience in the field and I look forward to future fieldwork opportunities!

Snapshot Saturday: August 4th, 2018

Check out this cow and calf duo captured on a Snapshot Wisconsin camera in the Black River State Forest. This elk calf already weighed 52 pounds when it was collared June 4th, 2018 – just two days after being born! Happy Snapshot Saturday!

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Interested in hosting your own Snapshot Wisconsin camera? Visit our webpage to find out how to get involved: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/research/projects/snapshot/. Classify photos from all the trail cameras at www.snapshotwisconsin.org.

Elk Calf Searching

After two days of meticulous searching in the rain, a crew of about ten people (including two Snapshot team members) dejectedly walked out of the forest. We were searching for elk (Cervus canadensis) calves in the Clam Lake and Flambeau River State Forest regions of Wisconsin, and had not had any luck thus far. Just as we were leaving, a biologist on the crew softly yelled “elk!”. Nestled into the side of a tree was a small brown creature perfectly camouflaged with the surrounding dead leaves. We estimated that we had walked by the little calf three times without noticing her!

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The female elk calf that Snapshot Wisconsin team members helped to find. She was a little soggy from the rain.

The elk biologists put a blindfold over the elk calf to keep her calm. With hushed voices, they took measurements, applied ear tags, fitted her with a VHF (very high frequency) collar for location tracking and then moved away. Collars provide information on mortality, movement and herd interactions throughout the calves’ lifetimes. Collectively, this data can be used to help inform management decisions for Wisconsin’s elk herds.

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Elk calves are fitted with VHF collars and ear tags for identification and location tracking. Photograph credit: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

For more information about Wisconsin’s elk herds, check out this link.

Science Update: Clam Lake Elk Activity

Thanks to a dedicated effort by our volunteers, Wisconsin DNR staff and University of Wisconsin students, we were able to classify all of the elk photos from 2016!

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CL = Clam lake (camera area straddles Sawyer, Ashland and Bayfield Counties). BRF = Black River Falls (Jackson County)

This Science Update features data from the Clam Lake elk area only, due to a lack of elk photos from the Black River Falls area. From GPS collar information, we know that many of the Black River Falls elk prefer to hang out outside of our camera area (perhaps they are bashful?). When we have more Snapshot Wisconsin cameras in the counties surrounding Black River Falls, we hope to have enough data for a Science Update on those elk as well.

 

There were 120 cameras active in the Clam Lake area in 2016, capturing 3,996 triggers containing elk. After grouping consecutive triggers showing the same elk, we ended up with 305 unique elk events.

We graphed daily activity patterns of antlerless elk and bulls from the 305 unique elk events. Overall, elk were most active between 6 and 9 AM and 5 and 6 PM. Antlerless elk were most active around dawn and dusk, while bull activity peaked later in the morning and evening.

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We also graphed monthly elk activity throughout 2016. Because not all of our cameras were active during the entire year, we corrected photo hit rate based on the percentage of cameras active each week. The image below shows this corrected photo count for antlerless elk and bull elk throughout 2016.

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The marked spike in bull activity at weeks 36 through 40 indicates the annual rut period. That period corresponds to a sharp drop off in activity level for antlerless elk; cows tend to stay put during that period while bulls move around more. (Curious about why this might be? Click here for more information on elk life history and mating behavior.) The trail cameras give us the ability to pinpoint the time frame of the rut period more precisely than we were previously able.