Home Ranges and Movements of Elk (Cervus canadensis) Restored to Southern Ontario, Canada


  • Rick Rosatte




Cervus canadensis, Elk, home range, movements, population restoration, southern Ontario


During 2000 and 2001, Elk (Cervus canadensis) were restored to the Bancroft, Ontario area. The objective of this study was to determine the home range and movements of six social units of Elk, 5–12 years after restoration, in an area of about 2500 km2 near Bancroft. Home range and movements were calculated from 40 221 Global Positioning System locations acquired from 56 collared Elk (16 bulls and 40 cows) between 2006 and 2013. Annual home ranges were found to be significantly greater (mean 110.3 km2, standard error [SE] 11.2) for Elk in areas where winter feeding by humans did not occur compared with those (mean 51.0 km2, SE 9.0) where winter feeding was prevalent. Elk in winter feeding areas had smaller ranges in winter than other seasons. On a seasonal basis, home range size was larger for Elk in areas where winter feeding did not occur; mean winter home range for Elk in non-feeding areas was 73.4 km2 (SE34.0) compared with 8.3 km2 (SE 2.6) for Elk in areas where winter feeding occurred. The 20 Elk that were monitored for multiple years exhibited home range fidelity among years. The entire range of all radio-collared Elk within the social groups studied covered 1716.4 km2 during 2006–2013. Average daily movements of Elk in the study area
ranged from 1.0 to 2.1 km/day with greatest movements occurring during spring and summer. However, some Elk were capable of moving an average of 5–7km in a 12-h interval. Movements (about 5 km) to winter range occurred during October to December each year. Cows moved to calving areas in May with mean movements of Elk to spring/summer range about 6 km. Cow/calf groups moved to fall ranges by early September with mean movements of about 4 km. During the rut, mean bull movements of 16.0 km to cow groups over 1–5 days occurred in early September. Hunting of Elk during the fall of 2011 and 2012 did not appear to significantly affect the movements and dispersion of Elk in the study area.