Wind-power development is occurring throughout North America, but its effects on mammals are largely unexplored. Our objective was to determine response (i.e., home-range, diet quality) of Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus) to wind-power development in southwestern Oklahoma. Ten elk were radiocollared in an area of wind-power development on 31 March 2003 and were relocated bi-weekly through March 2005. Wind-power construction was initiated on 1 June 2003 and was completed by December 2003 with 45 active turbines. The largest composite home range sizes (>80 km2) occurred April–June and September, regardless of the status of wind-power facility development. The smallest home range sizes (<50 km2) typically occurred in October–February when elk aggregated to forage on winter wheat. No elk left the study site during the study and elk freely crossed the gravel roads used to access the wind-power facility. Carbon and nitrogen isotopes and percent nitrogen in feces suggested that wind-power development did not affect nutrition of elk during construction. Although disturbance and loss of some grassland habitat was apparent, elk were not adversely affected by wind-power development as determined by home range and dietary quality.
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Vol. 156 • No. 2