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RBC I The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Colorado Parks and Wildlife and Shell Exploration and Production are jointly funding a project to study and better understand the behaviors and movement of elk that occupy habitat near areas of oil and gas exploration and development.
Past radio telemetry studies have shown that areas leased by Shell in the upper Williams Fork drainage area in Moffat County are very important winter and summer ranges, production areas and migratory corridors for elk and mule deer.
The three-year study seeks to help guide site-specific energy development projects aimed at striking a balance between resource recovery and wildlife conservation. While current VHF telemetry studies are useful in monitoring general movement and distribution of elk and mule deer, this study will utilize newer, state-of-the-art satellite GPS collars to provide more detailed data relevant to elk conservation in the face of potential impacts from energy development activities.
“Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is extremely pleased to have initiated the cooperative support for this project that is so important to assure the preservation of sensitive habitat so critical to the vitality of their significant elk herd, each numbering in the 45,000 range in this area,” said Troy Sweet, Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation’s regional director. “We are also proud to be working in association with Colorado Parks and Wildlife and pleased to continue our long-standing relationship with Shell.”
“The potential of increased energy development in the Williams Fork area adds a new dynamic to the sensitive balance of maintaining key and productive habitat for elk and mule deer,” said Bill de Vergie, area wildlife manager for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in Meeker. “This multi-year elk monitoring program is ideally timed to provide important data to allow the best decisions to be made to assure the vitality of these herds in relation to the need for prudent and balanced energy development.”
de Vergie added that “Colorado Parks and Wildlife greatly appreciates the collaborative support of RMEF and Shell on this project.”
“We know how important it is to understand potential impacts of our operations and also to plan for the proper migrations of those impacts, so we saw this project as a significant opportunity and need for Shell’s participation” said Carolyn Tucker, Shell’s Communications Business Advisor for the Rockies.
“Shell’s goal in all its operations is to avoid unnecessary impacts of our business, and to work cooperatively with key entities such as CPW and RMEF to assure balanced energy development while protecting the areas sensitive resources,”
Over the last 10 years, Shell has collaborated with CPW and RMEF on a number of projects in and around Northwest Colorado, including elk habitat improvement and ongoing support for sage grouse, mule deer and restoration/reclamation research.