CPI is committed to contributing to the available knowledge of the prairie’s ecosystem and how it functions. Our research focuses on issues that will immediately inform policy or management of the prairies.
To change the discussion about predators on the prairie, CPI knows that more information is needed. Our current research project focuses on the seasonal variations of coyote diet on the shortgrass prairie. This will help us understand more about what particular types of prey coyotes consume during different times of the year, which will in turn inform management policies. For example, if data show that coyotes feed heavily on beef cows during certain months, management might be warranted during those times. However, if during other seasons coyotes feed largely on small mammals or birds, policies do not need to allow the animals to be killed for protection.
The research uses scat analysis to determine the seasonal breakdown in diet of coyotes in a certain region of the Pawnee National Grassland. The area is grazed almost year round, and the study is expected to reveal to what extent, if any, coyotes interfere with cattle. If you are interested in volunteering to help with this project, please email CPI here.
Elk Population Survey
Many people don’t realize that elk were originally creatures of open grasslands. Only after European encroachment forced them into the mountains did they come to inhabit areas of elevations. On a part of southeastern Colorado’s Comanche National Grassland, elk still roam near the prairies. Purgatory Canyon is a 500-foot deep canyon with a healthy elk herd. However, if these animals are ever going to expand back onto their native and historic prairie range, more information is needed about the current ranges and populations of elk in the area.
CPI is undertaking an ambitious camera survey of Purgatory Canyon to help determine the best path toward expanding the range of elk in southeastern Colorado. This research is funded by a generous grant from the Norcross Foundation.