Date of Award

January 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Geography & Geographic Information Science

First Advisor

Bradley Rundquist

Second Advisor

Jason R. Boulanger


In North Dakota, dispersing elk (Cervus elaphus) were colonizing areas of suitable habitat in Turtle Mountain, Pembina Hills, and Porcupine Hills, ND, USA. Although these 3 elk herds were small (~100–250 individuals each), they had been responsible for crop depredation in these areas. The North Dakota Game and Fish Department (NDGF) had little information on these elk herds. In cooperation with Standing Rock Sioux Reservation and Manitoba Department of Sustainable Development, NDGF contracted with the University of North Dakota (UND) to collect and analyze critical baseline information to better manage these elk herds. The objectives of this study were to determine 1) population estimates and demographic composition; 2) home range and habitat selection; and 3) biological and cultural carrying capacities. We used helicopters to capture 15 adult female elk, affixed Global Positioning System (GPS) collars, and gathered 6 GPS locations per day from each animal (one fix per four hours) to determine home ranges for daily, seasonal, and hunting season intervals over a period of 1 year (2016–2017). We conducted home range analyses using Brownian Bridge spatial techniques in R statistical software, which are currently among the most robust methods to analyze these data. We found that home ranges from the 3 herds were significantly different from one another (P < 0.05), and gun season (P < 0.0001), winter (P < 0.05) and nightly (P < 0.05) movements were significantly different than our baseline comparables.