Calgary and Canmore Areas Aerial Winter Elk Survey 2008


Jon T. Jorgenson and Michael Jokinen


Aerial elk surveys were initiated in 1974 to gain more information about the status and distribution of elk herds using mountainous areas of Kananaskis Country and the foothills just west of Calgary. Traditional elk wintering areas within Wildlife Management Units (WMU’s) 310, 312, 314, 404, 406, 408 and 410 were surveyed by helicopter on January 18, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, and February 1, 2008. A total of 2441 elk were found in the WMU’s including 67 in Bow Valley Provincial Park (BVPP). The total elk count included 1175 without antler (WOA) (calves and cows), 114 spike bulls, 89 branch antlered bulls, 94 trophy bulls (5 pts +) and another 969 unclassified elk. The sex ratio was 46 bulls/100 WOA and 14 trophy bulls/100 WOA. A calf/100 cows ratio of 16 could be determined from the classified portion of the surveyed elk. This is the highest number of elk observed on any of the surveys conducted since the early 1980’s, however, incomplete coverage of some areas during some of the earlier surveys makes comparisons difficult. Significant increases in elk numbers were observed in WMU’s 312 and 314.

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