Aerial crews recently took to the skies of northeast Tennessee to shoot nets on elk out of a helicopter. The goal is to help biologists estimate populations and calf survival to better improve overall elk management.
“We know what our pregnancy rates are but once a calf is born, what’s the likelihood it will survive six months or a year,” said Brad Miller, Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency elk program coordinator. “We worked with Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. They provided funding for elk helicopter captures for a crew to come in and capture adult calves. We’re able to put GPS collars on them – special transmitters that will allow us to find the calves when they’re born and then we’ll go out and put radio collars on those calves and be able to track those over time to see what that survival rate would be.”
Crews also tested the animals for disease and parasite testing before releasing them back into the wild.
Once completed, this research combined with a recent three-year University of Tennessee study will shine more of a spotlight on various aspects of the elk population.
The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation helped with the successful restoration of elk to their historic Tennessee range in 2000. Since 1990, RMEF and its partners completed 110 conservation and hunting heritage outreach projects in Tennessee with a combined value of more than $4.2 million. These projects conserved and enhanced 79,396 acres of habitat and opened or improved public access to 78,388 acres.
The application period for Tennessee’s 2023 elk hunt closes on February 22.
(Video source: Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency)