CPW used GPS collars to track elk during Cameron Peak Fire — here’s what they found

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FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Colorado Parks and Wildlife has obtained new information about the potential impact of wildfires on big game.

For the past few years, the department has been tracking dozens of elk across the state as part of a study on migration habits and happened to be tracking 30 elk in the Cameron Peak Fire burn area last year.

Scientists overlayed those elk movements with the spread of the fire and discovered the elk only ran as far as they needed to stay safe.

“It was able to give us a look at elk behavior in and around the burn zone,” CPW spokesperson Jason Clay said. “They didn’t run many, many miles away. They kind of stayed on the outside of the burn perimeter.”

Clay said some elk even moved through the burn scar shortly after the fire, finding pockets of safe space.

On Tuesday, video surfaced of a herd of elk fleeing the Kruger Rock Fire outside of Estes Park, sparking concern on social media that the elk would move out of their comfort zone.

“I think the video is a little misleading in the fact that those elk, this time of year, hang out lower in the valley down by the golf course,” Clay said. “That’s what they do, and elk can move many miles before we can really blink.”

CPW is continuing to track elk movement, hoping to understand why some elk travel great distances each year while others remain mostly stationary.

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