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First Advisor

David S. Maehr


I estimated survival, cause-specific mortality, and neonatal habitat use of elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni) calves in eastern Kentucky. I also measured habitat characteristics of elk parturition sites and annual calf production . Radio-collared females were fitted with vaginal implant transmitters and monitored for parturition behavior to locate, capture, and radio-collar calves during the springs of 2001 and 2002. Thirty-seven adult females with implant transmitters were translocated from Logan, Utah, to Addington Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in eastern Kentucky. Additional females from previous releases during 1997 and 1998 were monitored for parturition behavior. Mean calf production for all females monitored (n=77) was 66.2%. Parturition sites (n=10) were typically in closed-canopy hardwood forest within 152 m of a forest/grassland interface. Female selected sites with more boulders, andlt; 20 slope, a higher percentage of woody saplings, and thicker vegetation between 1.0 2.25 m in height compared to random sites. Twenty-seven calves were radio-collared and intensively monitored by ground and aerial telemetry. Mean annual survival was 0.766 ( 0.103). Coyote (Canis latrans) predation, meningeal worm (Parelaphostongylus tenuis), and human-caused mortality may slow population growth. Retention of implant transmitters for 40 cows ranged from 1 to 276 days (61.6 3.0). Only 2 implant transmitters worked as designed and led to calf captures. I had better success (n=25) capturing calves by monitoring parturition behavior and searching areas where pregnant cows were suspected to have given birth.