Ensuring the future of elk, other wildlife, their habitat and our hunting heritage.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Celebrating the Starkey Project, the Epicenter of Elk Research

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation recently played host to a two-day gathering to celebrate 25 years of research and partnerships with the Starkey Experimental Forest and Range.  The research area covers 40 square miles of an ungulate-proof fence enclosing in northeastern Oregon, offering unique opportunities for the science-based study of elk.

The activities began with RMEF’s "Professional Day," which was open to agency professionals including biologists, foresters, range specialists, and land managers from public agencies and private entities.  About 170 people were in attendance, 120 of them professionals. 

“Founders’ Field Day” followed with about 120 attendees, including 70 Habitat Partners, volunteers and presenters.  A tour showcased the landscape, methods and people involved with wildlife research.  Those who attended also had the chance to meet and interact with “tractable” or tame elk, the true research stars of the Starkey Project. 

The tour was fully interactive with presentations from the leading  researchers in the field, examples of different research applications including habitat manipulation, travel management, nutrition, and resource partitioning.  It also featured the development of the new Elk Habitat Selection Models for West side and East side forests.  Attendees donated more than $8,000 to assist elk and elk country.  RMEF founders Bob Munson and Charlie Decker also attended.
RMEF Founders Bob Munson & Charlie Decker

The Starkey Ungulate Ecology Project began in 1987 and continues today.  The motivation for the original research was based on a variety of national controversies about how best to manage elk, mule deer, and cattle in relation to a wide variety of public land uses, and the lack of cause-effect knowledge on these topics. 

The most notable of these controversies initially focused on the effects of timber harvest, roads, motorized access and hunting on elk and mule deer, and the potential for cattle competition with elk and mule deer.  Since the original studies wrapped up in the early 1990s, researchers completed more than 60 additional studies that encompass a diverse set of topics related to ungulates and their roles in forest ecosystems. 
RMEF believes the research results changed paradigms that guide habitat management, leading to informed decisions and improved habitat conditions for wildlife.  RMEF is dedicated to addressing and enhancing habitat for elk and other wildlife. One way we do this is by partnering in ungulate ecology research. The Starkey Project produces research that applies to landscapes throughout elk country resulting in improved wildlife habitat and hunting opportunities!

RMEF is pleased to be a partner on the Starkey Project and its research.  Go here to learn more about it.

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