MOOSE MOVEMENT PATTERNS IN THE UPPER KOYUKUK RIVER DRAINAGE, NORTHCENTRAL ALASKA

Kyle Joly, Timothy Craig, Mathew S. Sorum, Jennifer S. McMillan, Michael A. Spindler

Abstract


Understanding movement patterns of moose (Alces alces) is critical to understanding their ecology and sound management. Our study was prompted by concern that the Dalton Highway Corridor Management Area (DHCMA), where the Dalton Highway facilitates access for non-local hunting, may be a population sink for moose that also reside in more remote and protected areas like Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve (GAAR) and Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge (KNWR). We did not detect substantial migrations between DHCMA and GAAR or KNWR. However, we estimated that 14–60% of moose in our study area were migratory depending on sex, location within our study area, and methodology utilized to differentiate migratory behavior. A quarter of the animals displayed mixed-migratory strategies where migration is exhibited by a single individual in some years but not others. The percentage of moose that were migratory in our study population, and the distances they migrated, were lower than reported from studies elsewhere in interior Alaska. We hypothesize this may be related to their very low density (∼ 0.1 moose/km2) and/or higher terrain ruggedness in part of the study area. Winter severity did not appear to impact migration, but home range sizes were smaller in severe winters.

Keywords


Alces alces, migration, moose, seasonality, strategy, temperature, winter severity

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