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Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge — long known for its birds — is seeing more elk; however, the numbers at the Valles Caldera National Preserve appear to be unchanged.
“Fifteen years ago they were very uncommon, and now they’re very common,” said John Vradenburg, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologist at the wildlife refuge south of Socorro.
Estimates of the Bosque del Apache’s elk population now range from 30 up to 100, he said.
While this phenomena is occurring in the wildlife refuge, elk numbers are “holding fairly steady” in the Valles Caldera, said Director of Science and Education Dr. Bob Parmenter.
“We hunt them … and of course there’s predatoration and nature causes – diseases,” he said.
Looking at the numbers given by the State Department of Game and Fish, there are 4,500 elk in the Jemez Mountains and about 2,500-3,000 of those are in the caldera. He said there is no data to suggest that the population is shrinking or increasing.
One thing the Caldera staff, along with the Game and Fish, is studying is the calf mortality rate, Parmenter said. He said there should be 40-50 calves for every 100 cow but what they are seeing is 25-30 calves for every 100 cow.
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