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Glacier National Park

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The overall objective of this two-year investigation is to study gray wolf (Canis lupus): ungulate interrelationships in a multi-prey system. This study focuses on elk (Cervus elaphus), and is being conducted in the North Fork of the Flathead River drainage, in Montana and British Columbia, the main area of grey wolf recovery.We address questions that resource managers will be asked as wolf recovery occurs. From a National Park Service perspective, the results could be used to educate the public about the role of predation in natural systems. Glacier National Park has the opportunity to lead the way in conducting research on this keystone predator and its prey, and to demonstrate the role biosphere reserves can play in ecological research. Information that will be important for future informed resource management is being gathered. Management of public lands might require a balance accommodation between wolves, their prey, and sport hunting, along with other forms of recreation. The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks needs information on the impacts of wolves on game populations in order to maintain numbers and recreational opportunities. As reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone National Park is considered and debated, knowledge gained from this study will be helpful. Finally, this study can expand ecological knowledge of the role of a major predator on the prey population dynamics and interrelationships. To expand knowledge of the study area prey base available to wolves, these specific parameters will be addressed: 1. Age and cause-specific mortality of elk. 2. Seasonal distribution and key elk seasonal use areas. 3. Age, sex distribution/composition of the elk population. 4. Long-term elk abundance and distribution monitoring plan.