Elk herd

Elk in a field near the Bar X Ranch. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is conducting a new study of the Avalanche Creek elk herd.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife in early March will begin a six-year study of the elk herd that resides in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness Area and Sky Mountain Park above Snowmass Village, the agency announced Thursday.

Residents may see activity typically related to research projects, including helicopters, trail cameras and elk wearing tracking collars, a press release says.

“We are going to gather good data to learn more about this herd and make informed decisions about how we can manage [the animals] effectively in the future,” said Perry Will, CPW area wildlife manager, in the release.

Pitkin County Open Space and Trails is partnering with CPW in the study, which will include fitting cow elk at Sky Mountain Park with tracking collars. Although much of the park is closed to human use annually from Dec. 1 through May 15, the value of the study data is worth the disturbance, said Gary Tennenbaum, director of Open Space and Trails.

“This study could produce data that is crucial to a better understanding of the needs of elk and their use of county open space,” Tennenbaum said. “Knowing where these animals move, and when, will be extremely helpful in better managing properties and establishing seasonal closures.”

Will said the study is for a good cause: “Local governments, local outdoor recreation businesses and local citizens all have a stake in what this study reveals, so we ask for the public’s cooperation and patience while the study is ongoing,” he said.

For more information about the research project, contact CPW’s Glenwood Springs office at 970-247-2927, or perry.will@state.co.us.