Using Science to Help the National Park Service Interpret a Wildlife Resource
Edward M Olexa
Consistent with the National Park Service’s philosophy, Fossil Butte National Monument is managed to protect the Monument’s resources and provide opportunities for public enjoyment. Fossil Butte National Monument was created primarily to protect paleontological resources; however, the mandate of the agency’s enabling legislation “to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife therein…” also recognizes the importance of natural process, native wildlife species, and the habitats on which they depend. Sizeable herds of elk spend part of the fall and winter within the Monument’s boundaries and provide numerous viewing opportunities for visitors. Collaboration among the USGS, the National Park Service, the BLM, and the WGFD led to a long-term study of elk movements and spatial distribution in the Fossil Butte area. We used data collected during this research to enhance the Monument’s interpretive and educational program.
In FY2014, we developed an interpretive handout (fact sheet) that provides visitors with relevant information about general elk ecology in Wyoming and more specific information regarding seasonal and diurnal movements of elk. Not only will our fact sheet facilitate a deeper understanding of this wildlife resource, it aims to address the interests of 17,000-20,000 visitors each year, many of whom are pleased with the opportunity to see and learn about wildlife at Fossil Butte National Monument. The fact sheet includes a map that shows movements of radio-collared elk both at the monument and elsewhere in the region.
Product Completed in FY2014
- Olexa, E.M., Soileau, S.C., and Allen, L.A., 2014, Observations of elk movement patterns on Fossil Butte National Monument: WLCI Fact Sheet 6, 2 p., http://pubs.usgs.gov/wlci/fs/6/.