Elk group seeks volunteers for collaring project
August 12, 2009
By Michael Rowe
When the radio signal of an elk collar gets picked up, it takes readings from three different spots to triangulate the location of the elk, explained Tom Kemp, who is helping to train a group of volunteers who study elk in the Valley.
The Upper Snoqualmie Valley Management Group put radio collars on nine elk last spring. One of the elk died after being struck by a vehicle on I-90, but an elk collared in another part of the state has wandered into the Valley and is being tracked by the Valley’s elk management group.
This fall, the group plans to put radio collars on 40 more elk, and they are looking for volunteers to help with their telemetry project.
Kemp is one of the group’s two trainers. He’s a chaplain in the Transport for Christ, International, ministry that runs the chapel at T/A Truck Stop, which is called “Trucktown” by most Valley residents, but Kemp also has an undergraduate degree in wildlife biology and he enjoys volunteering with the elk management group.
The telemetry project is part of the elk management group’s long-term efforts to scientifically study the elk population in the Upper Snoqualmie Valley. The telemetry readings taken from elk collars will help the group to determine where the elk are, their travel corridors, determining elk habitats and the population of the elk herd.
The elk management group recently decided that its members or volunteers who intended to hunt elk locally should not participate in the telemetry project because of the conflict of interest. So the group is now trying to put together a group of volunteers to help with the study.
Kemp said that the telemetry work is time and labor intensive. Sometimes there is not even the reward of seeing an elk in the wild, but the work is very important for understanding the elk herd, which eventually will lead to developing a plan to manage the animals and to reduce property damage caused by the foraging elk.
The best time to do the readings is just after sunrise or right before sunset, Kemp said. Volunteers will drive to locations to do the readings using compasses and GPS units to triangulate the location of signals.
Kemp said that people who are interested in the elk or want to get involved in the community should consider volunteering if they have the time to commit to the project. Kemp or another member of the elk management group will provide training either in groups or one-on-one sessions.
To volunteer, contact Kemp at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach reporter Michael Bayless Rowe at email@example.com or 392-6434, ext. 248.