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Grand Teton National Park Report

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The elk (Cervus canadensis nelsoni) of the Grand Teton National Park-Southern Yellowstone region preferentially utilize fairly-well delineated areas as calving grounds. These areas, which are open sagebrush and bunchgrass-shrub habitats mixed with decadent aspen groves, may be of extreme importance to the elk population insofar as they are the places where the calves are born and spend their first days. It has never been determined how the elk utilize these areas and if disturbances within these areas pose a threat to the elk. Cattle grazing and human use during the spring could act to increase calf mortality by restricting the elk to habitats with less cover for the calves and by separating calves from their dams. Predation of calves by black bear (Ursus americanus) and coyotes (Canis latrans) could increase under these circumstances (Schlegel 1976, McCullough 1969), as could desertion of the calves by their dams, as has been documented for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) by White et al (1972).