Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Herding With Hockey Sticks: Elk Trained To Stay Away From Tourists

Date:
December 17, 2004
Source:
University Of Alberta
Summary:
There are no hockey sticks waving around on NHL ice this holiday season, but travel to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, and you'll see plenty of them. The game? Keeping elk at a safe distance from their adoring fans.

There are no hockey sticks waving around on NHL ice this holiday season, but travel to Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, and you'll see plenty of them. The game? Keeping elk at a safe distance from their adoring fans.

Related Articles


Researchers at the University of Alberta have found a way to keep elk in the park's townsite from clashing with tourists, but still close enough that they can be viewed and enjoyed in their wild habitat.

"This is win-win ecology," said Dr. Colleen Cassady St. Clair, a professor of biological sciences. By subjecting the animals to pyrotechnic noisemakers and herding dogs, the research team was able to increase the distance at which the elk to take flight from approaching humans. The management strategy has since been put into use by Banff park wardens using hockey sticks. By high-sticking--raising the sticks above their heads, the wardens appear larger than the elk, which is enough to frighten the wary animal away and help prevent potential classes with humans.

The approach teaches elk to have a healthy respect for people, while accommodating the animals' need for high-quality forage around the townsite. St. Clair and M.Sc. student Elsabe Kloppers, the lead researchers on the three-year project, were able to stickhandle their way to success through aversive conditioning; or getting the elk to avoid certain unpleasant stimuli--in this case an aggressive chase--and punishing them with this same stimuli for certain behaviours. A few dozen of Banff's habituated elk were divided into three groups. When they were within the town boundary, two of these groups were chased for 15 minutes by border collies--known for their herding skills--or by humans making noise. The third group of animals served as a control to measure the responses.

It was determined that humans and dogs were both effective in increasing the distance in the elk's flight response, but humans were more effective at teaching elk to avoid the townsite.

St. Clair and Kloppers began studying the problem three years ago, when serious concerns were raised about incidents in Banff. Over the past decade, elk in the town had become increasingly used to people. By 2001, park staff were recording seven incidents per year where an animal had made physical contact with a human, often with resulting injuries to the person.

The presence of the elk was also drawing unwanted attention from other predators, such as wolves, posing another threat to humans.

The dilemma was to keep the elk at a safe distance, without having to either relocate them or destroy them--two options that had been used in the past.

"The problem is basically solved in Banff," St. Clair said, adding that similar solutions may be possible for elk in other areas and for other animals like bears that are prone to habitutation.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University Of Alberta. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University Of Alberta. "Herding With Hockey Sticks: Elk Trained To Stay Away From Tourists." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 December 2004. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041217104544.htm>.
University Of Alberta. (2004, December 17). Herding With Hockey Sticks: Elk Trained To Stay Away From Tourists. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041217104544.htm
University Of Alberta. "Herding With Hockey Sticks: Elk Trained To Stay Away From Tourists." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/12/041217104544.htm (accessed November 25, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

From Popcorn To Vending Snacks: FDA Ups Calorie Count Rules

Newsy (Nov. 25, 2014) The US FDA is announcing new calorie rules on Tuesday that will require everywhere from theaters to vending machines to include calorie counts. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Feast Your Eyes: Lamb Chop Sent Into Space from UK

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Nov. 25, 2014) Take a stab at this -- stunt video shows a lamb chop's journey from an east London restaurant over 30 kilometers into space. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

Cambodian Capital's Only Working Elephant to Retire in Jungle

AFP (Nov. 25, 2014) Phnom Penh's only working elephant was blessed by a crowd of chanting Buddhist monks Tuesday as she prepared for a life of comfortable jungle retirement after three decades of giving rides to tourists. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Stray Dog Follows Adventure Racing Team for 6-Day Endurance Race

Buzz60 (Nov. 24, 2014) A Swedish Adventure racing team travels to try and win a world title, but comes home with something way better: a stray dog that joined the team for much of the grueling 430-mile race. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins