James M. Peek
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What Does the Historical Record and Our Knowledge of Rangeland Ecology Suggest about
Future Trends in Deer and Elk Populations?
James M. Peek, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID
I hypothesize that over the past 60 to 70 years, North America experienced higher populations of deer (Odocoileus hemionus, O. virginianus) and elk (Cervus canadensis) than previously occurred, including prior to 1500 AD. The hypothesis is defended using information on aboriginal populations, observations by the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and assumptions concerning habitat conditions and grazing influences. If the hypothesis approximates reality, we may ultimately experience lower densities of these species as more attention is given to long-term habitat sustainability and biodiversity, coupled with climate change and increases in predators.