Conservation: North America Program
Project Update: Elk: Montana
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the University of Montana are now completing the second year of a three-year project investigating the influence of predation, habitat, and nutrition on elk population dynamics in the southern Bitterroot Valley. As we approach the end of the second year of intensive elk survival monitoring, we continue to see that lion predation is the dominant cause of elk mortality, and find mortality causes from year two were similar to those observed in year one. Heading into the summer, we will work to capture and radio tag the third and final cohort of neonatal elk, and monitor cause-specific mortality throughout the following year. This summer we also plan to complete the mountain lion population estimate, and the second and final year of vegetation monitoring.
Contributions Over the Last Six Months
SCI Foundation donated $350,000 to fund multiple predator/prey projects in the U.S. and Canada. Conservation projects include Predator/Prey studies, the results of which will help properly manage both predators and prey in systems where both exist. Donations were also made to wildlife population research and enhancement programs.
SCI Foundation promotes science-based wildlife management and conservation activities to provide credible information for wildlife policy and management decisions. In North America, one of our areas of focus is Predator-Prey Interactions. These scientific studies are the foundation of future management decisions regarding how predators and their prey populations will be managed. The impact of predators such as bears, wolves, coyotes, mountain lion, lynx, and bobcats on big-game populations is critical in making contentious management decisions.
Safari Club International members voiced their serious concern with the declining caribou herds and in the past year helped initiate a partnership with the government of Newfoundland and Labrador.
White-tailed Deer: Michigan
Understanding the factors that influence survival throughout the year is important for proper management of the herd.
A three-year study aimed at understanding what factors are having the most influence on elk calf survival.
To estimate moose population performance and the influence of grizzly and black bears on moose survival and recruitment where calf survival is low.
White-tailed Deer: Wisconsin
To estimate the influence of black bears, coyotes, wolves, and bobcats on white-tailed deer survival and recruitment where fawn survival is low.
SCI Foundation Conservation also focuses on Species and Habitat Enhancement. Wildlife habitats are continually impacted by humans, sometimes at the detriment of species. Humans have a responsibility to conserve the quantity and quality of habitat for wildlife, and at the same time, learn to better coexist with wildlife within limited space. In some circumstances, introductions or reintroductions of species can enhance the productivity of populations. Through habitat and species management, humans can ensure the prevalence of wildlife and maintain biodiversity.
Black BearSCI Foundation is assisting the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC) to estimate the population of black bears, their movement patterns, habitat preferences, and genetic relatedness.
Our objective is to determine whether artificial water developments influence mule deer survival and productivity in California's East Mojave desert ecosystem.
The unique, isolated cougar population in the Black Hills of South Dakota was studied over the course of several years to document survival, genetic structure, population status, mortality, and morphological attributes.
Wildlife diseases are also of particular interest to the SCI Foundation Conservation team. Diseases have the potential to be devastating to wildlife populations, whether they are limited to small outbreaks in a region or endemic across a species’ entire range. The better understanding we have about pathogens and the transmission of disease, the better control managers have to protect wildlife from disease related mortality. Wildlife disease problems are of concern to farmers, landowners, hunters and outdoor recreationists, wildlife managers, veterinarians and physicians. The SCI Foundation strives to provide expertise on wildlife disease to the public for the protection of both wildlife and humans.
Chronic Wasting Disease
CWD belongs to a family of diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE). Within this TSE family of diseases, there are three predominant variants that affect animals.
Hemorrhagic disease is the most important viral disease of white-tailed deer in the U.S., and outbreaks occur every year in the Southeast. SCI Foundation has partnered with MossyOak and the Southeast Cooperative Wildlife Disease Laboratory to better understand factors influencing the spread of the disease.