Return to the main page - [LINK] US Forest Service - [LINK] Oregon Department Of Fish and Wildlife - [LINK] The Starkey Project
"Long-term studies of elk, deer, and cattle - examining the effects of ungulates on ecosystems"
 

 

[ ]  [ ]
 
   
 

Frequently Asked Questions about the Starkey Project


WHAT IS THE STARKEY PROJECT?

It's a joint wildlife research project conducted by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and the USDA Forest Service at the Starkey Experimental Forest and Range, 28 miles southwest of La Grande, Oregon. The project is designed to measure the population response of deer and elk to the intensively managed forests and rangelands of the future. Research began in 1989 and will continue for 10 years.

Starkey Project Locator Map

Top of page Top of page

WHY WAS THE PROJECT NEEDED?

Results are expected to provide definitive information about deer and elk response to habitat changes associated with timber and livestock management, motorized traffic, hunting, and other recreation. The research investment will yield results expected to guide land use decisions into the 21st century. These land use decisions will affect local, regional and national economies.

Top of page Top of page

IS HUNTING ALLOWED?

Public hunting is allowed. Deer and elk hunts are administered as controlled hunts by the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Controlled hunts are listed for the Starkey Experimental Forest in the Department's Big Game Regulations. Hunters help shape the population structure of the herds and provide samples from the harvested animals to meet study goals. Deer and elk are subject to the same type of hunting pressure that exists outside the enclosure.

Top of page Top of page

WHAT IS "THE BIG FENCE"?

It's an eight-foot-high fence of woven wire that encircles 40 square miles, or 25,000 acres, of the Experimental Forest. The fence is designed to keep the study animals within the study area and exclude other animals from entering. Developed by red deer ranchers in New Zealand, the fence is able to contain elk and deer with minimal injury. The woven wire is strong yet flexible enough to allow the strands to move and bend on impact. If animals run into it, the fence acts like a trampoline.

Top of page Top of page

HOW CAN THE RESEARCH SEETING BE "NATURAL" IF THE ANIMALS ARE IN A "PEN?"

One of the biggest advantages of the enclosure is its size: 40 square miles is an area larger than the summer home range of most deer and elk; consequently animals inside the area are living under conditions similar to wild, fee-ranging herds. The enclosure is small enough, however, to provide many of the experimental controls of a penned study. The area also contains vegetation, terrain, and other habitat features typical of many National Forests of the Intermountain West.

Top of page Top of page

WILL THE ENCLOSURE REMAIN AFTER THE RESEARCH IS FINISHED?

The fence was designed and installed with specifications that allow it to stand for 30 years with minimal maintenance and repairs. Whether the fence remains after the first 10 years of research depends on the experience with this type of research facility. That was made clear in public presentations and in the environmental analysis before the project started. The area has been dedicated for research since 1940 by the forest Service. With the addition of the enclosure it has become a world-class forestry, range, and wildlife research facility. The life of the enclosure, however, depends on circumstances at the end of the 10 years of research.

Top of page Top of page

HOW DO YOU MONITOR THE USE BY CATTLE, DEER, AND ELK?

Animals are tracked to document habitat use in relationship to habitat changes and human activities. Movements are monitored 24 hours a day from April to December with an automated animal tracking system. The system automatically locates radio collared animals with the use of Loran-C technology and computers. This system is an accurate, efficient, and cost-effective method for monitoring animal movements.

Top of page Top of page

WON'T DEER AND ELK ADAPT TO THE PRESENCE OF RESEARCHERS AND BECOME SEMI-TAME, ESPECIALLY AFTER THE ANIMALS ARE ARTIFICIALLY FED DURING THE WINTER?

Wild, hunted herds of deer and elk throughout the western United States are often fed during severe winters when natural forage is not available. Research animals at Starkey are treated no differently. Like many free-ranging herds, they are fed during the winter, but are subjected to a wide array of human disturbances the rest of the year as part of the research -- including road building, road traffic, logging, cattle grazing, hunting, and other recreational activities that are traditional uses of National Forests. Deer and Elk have not become "semi-tame" on summer ranges in other areas where these activities are common.

Top of page Top of page

"Long-term studies of elk, deer, and cattle in managed forests."
Customer Service Comment Card- We welcome your comments and questions.
Privacy and Security Notice

If you have concerns, comments, or problems with this site, please contact the Webmaster