New techniques to deal with elk problems featured at public event

New strategies can help deter elk from agricultural land and re-instate migratory behaviour in resident ungulates

Got problems with Cervus elaphus nelsoni? A public presentation on new aversive conditioning techniques is being held in Cranbrook this week.

Got problems with Cervus elaphus nelsoni? A public presentation on new aversive conditioning techniques is being held in Cranbrook this week.

A review on new techniques to keep elk off agicultural land will be presented this week to the public in Cranbrook.

Based on this review, there are effective and practical aversive conditioning techniques that can potentially be used by land managers to deter elk in the South Rocky Mountain Trench (SRMT) of British Columbia.

As well, advanced technologies and strategies have potential to re-instate migratory behavior in resident elk to further reduce crop depredation.

The review on literature review on aversive conditioning techniques was conducted by Justin Mufford and Dr. John Church, both with Thompson Rivers University, and will be presented Thursday, Sept. 25, at the Heritage Inn.

A press release from the Rocky Mountain Trench Ecosystem Restoration Society describes how crop depredation on agricultural land, whether Crown or private, by Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni), is a frequent occurance in this region.

This problem has increased in recent years as many agricultural land managers have suffered annual devastating financial losses in their crop production.

The elk population surveyed in 2013 in the SRMT has an estimate of 7,697 elk and a significant portion of this population are non-migratory “resident” elk that no longer migrate to high elevations in the spring and instead, seek forage year round in low elevation agricultural land.

Common methods to prevent crop damage by elk and to pressure resident elk to migrate are limiting and problematic. Construction of fences along large areas is cost-prohibitive while lethal management of elk is often viewed as unacceptable by the public.

Aversive conditioning is a relatively new cost-effective and practical method that has potential application on elk in the SRMT.

A literature review on aversive conditioning techniques was conducted by Justin Mufford, 3rd year undergraduate student in the BSc. program and assistant researcher at Thompson Rivers University and by Dr. John Church, Cattle Research Chair and Professor at Thompson Rivers University.

The results of this review will be presented by Justin Mufford and Dr. John Church on September 25, 7:30 p.m. at the at the Heritage Inn West Ballroom in Cranbrook.