Keeping track in the Smokies

out elkTracking elk in Great Smoky Mountains National Park just got a little easier, thanks to a grant from Charter Communications. The communications and technology company gave a grant for $13,720 to Friends of the Smokies for the purchase of 15 radio collars and two receivers for tracking and monitoring elk throughout the park. 


“Funding the radio telemetry that park biologists use to ensure the elk’s success fits with our company’s focus,” said Joe Pell, vice president and general manager for Charter’s operations in Louisiana and Tennessee.

Radio transmitters are one of the most useful instruments to help track animal locations and survival, said Jim Hart, who accepted the money on behalf of Friends of the Smokies. “This is true, not only for elk, but other wildlife species as well.

Information gained from the use of radio telemetry equipment has been vital in making short and long-term management decisions regarding bears, elk and bats within the park and continues to be an integral part of ongoing wildlife monitoring and management efforts.”

When elk were reintroduced to the Smokies in 2001, all elk were fitted with radio collars, allowing biologists to efficiently monitor the growth, survival, and movements of the population.

But the elk are no longer considered an experimental population, and the park scaled back some of its monitoring and collaring.

Biologists continue to monitor a subset of the herd annually to track population dynamics, particularly focusing on newborn calves and females. The donation helps provide much-needed collars to fit the calves and five adult females per year along with any nuisance animals, Hart said.

“We find it very satisfying to have a healthy elk herd. Our job is to help maintain that by giving them the supplies they need,” Hart said.

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