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Are There Too Many Elk?


The Arizona Game and Fish Department must manage the state’s wildlife populations at a size that is of greatest benefit to the animals and their habitats, as well as to humans. For example, elk are an important part of Arizona’s natural landscape. When an elk herd gets too large, however, their grazing behavior can severely damage sensitive grassland and riparian ecosystems. It is the department’s responsibility not only to ensure that elk endure in our state, but also to keep them from harming their habitat. To be successful, the department must have reliable data. Biologists must be able to measure elk population levels as accurately as possible, which can be difficult when you’re working with an animal that can range across miles in a day. In this lesson, students read an article that describes a data collection protocol used by wildlife managers to monitor elk population size in one part of Arizona. Then, using this information, they must analyze real data and make recommendations regarding their management.

Suggested Grade Levels


Time Frame

2 days (45 minutes each day)

Enduring Understandings

After completing the activities contained in this lesson, the student should understand these basic concepts:

  • Decisions regarding the management of wildlife must use valid scientific data.

Arizona Department of Education Standards

This lesson was designed to present an integrated approach to learning. Not only will the students be introduced to science concepts dealing specifically with habitats, but they will also calculate percents and read scientific writing. Although the lesson plan includes the specific performance objectives achieved for each grade level, the following general concepts are covered:

    Grade Level
Subject Strand 7 8 HS
Science 1 x x x
3     x
4 x    
Math 1 x x  
2 x x x

Download This Lesson

This lesson is available in a standard PDF form:


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