Browsing Journal of Range Management, Volume 38, Number 6 (November 1985) by Subjects
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Changes in Diets of Wapiti during a Hunting SeasonThis study was conducted to assess the impact of hunting on diets of a wapiti (Cervus elaphus) population in west-central Alberta, Canada. During special winter hunts, consumption of rough fescue (Festuca scabrella) decreased from 86.9% to 34.3%, while browsing increased. The contribution of wild rye (Elymus innovatus) and wheatgrass (Agropyron subsecundum), mostly growing in forested areas, increased 15-18%. After the hunting seasons, animals returned to the same diet they had selected previously. Browse had significantly higher crude protein contents, but lower dry matter digestibility than grasses. In spite of submaintenance crude protein contents of grasses, undisturbed wapiti appeared to prefer grazing to browsing.
Effect of Forage Depletion on the Feeding Rate of WapitiWe evaluated forage intake rates of wapiti (Cervus elaphus nelsoni) during the depletion of a grass sward over a 7-day period. Bite sizes increased linearly with forage biomass and plant height within the range of our data. Maximum foraging rates of 45 cropping bites per minute declined exponentially at bite sizes greater than 0.2 g. Consumption rates increased asymptotically with forage biomass to a predicted asymptote of 17.6 g/min although the highest value observed was 12.6 g/min at a biomass of 2367 kg/ha. Average daily forage removals through grazing and trampling (not distinguished) were 9.5 kg per animal and did not decline as biomass was reduced from approximately 2,400 kg/ha to 800 kg/ha.