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Eastern Washington University
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Cheney, WA 99004
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Heather Fuller

2004 Research

Abstract: Elk and Private Property in Cheney, Washington: Use and Landowner Perceptions

Mentor: Dr. Margaret O'Connell Biology & Stacey Warren, Geography

As Urbanization increases, so does the encroachment of human activity on wildlife. The increased instances of human/wildlife interactions can be both positive and negative, presenting wildlife managers with a unique and complex dilemma. In southern Spokane County several hundred rocky mountain elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni) are found on both private property and Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge. The goal of my study was to assess elk use of private property, land use practices attracting elk, damage to private property, and landowner opinion of the elk in the area. I conducted a twelve question survey either by mail or phone with 150 landowners with property surrounding Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge. There is a positive correlation between property size, increased elk use, and negative opinion of elk on private property.

2003 Research

Abstract: Landowner Attitudes Toward Elk on Wildlife Refuge: Private Property Interference

Mentor: Dr. Margaret O'Connell, Biology

In the western part of the United States land use changes are occurring on private property. Areas that were once rural are now being subdivided and developed into exurban; low-density residential development that occurs beyond incorporated city limits (Nelson and Dueker 1990, Knight 1999). Human growth and development often have consequences on natural resources and wildlife, primarily degradation or loss of habitat (Layden et al. 2003). Some wildlife are able to adapt, or habituate to this new human-wildlife interface, causing inevitable encounters between humans and wildlife experiences (Whittaker and Knight 1998). The opportunity for "watch-able" wildlife experiences and/or increased hunting opportunities are seen as positive encounters by part of the population. In contrast, for others there are concerns regarding destruction of property, damage to crops, health and safety issues, and increased vehicle-wildlife collisions. Negative encounters with wildlife can range from nuisance animals such as raccoons (Procyon  lotor) or skunks (Mephitis sp.) getting into the neighborhood garbage cans, safety issues with  cougars (Felis concolor) increasingly being found in suburban areas, to property damage or crop losses caused by wild ungulates. Ungulates compete for forage with livestock, damage landscaping, hay and crops, and (allegedly) increase the potential for transmission of diseases, such as Lyme disease, to humans (Rutberg 1997). For example, whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus), because of their widespread geographic range, increase in population, and ability to habituate to human environments, have become a serious wildlife management issue (Irby et. al. 1997). The difficulty in finding solutions to human-wildlife conflict issues is compounded by the changing landscape.

Presentations

7th Annual Resrch & CW Symposium, EWU, May, 19, 2004

NW Scientific Association Conference, Corvallis, OR, 3/23-26/2005

WA Wildlife Association Conference, Pt Townsend, April 19-21, 2005

8th Ann. Resrch & CW Symposium, EWU, May 18, 2005

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