Here is one of the most common collars found on the Pennsylvania elk. As you can see, they feature a boxy transmitter and a yellow numbering system. This bull is referred to as “2D.” I photographed this bull in past years and was very happy to see him and get to photograph him again this year in January! He is not a giant bull, but he certainly is a nice one!
The Pennsylvania Game Commission uses collars like these to study the elk movement. They can determine how far an elk travels over a period of time. The collar is fitted onto the elk by tranquilizing the elk temporarily. In 1985, bulls had an average home range of 20.5 miles, while cows had a home range of 6.8 miles. (Source: “Management Plan for Elk in Pennsylvania 2006-2016, Pennsylvania Game Commission)
Attaching the collar is a very smooth process and the elk soon gets used to sporting the new collar. The batteries power the transmitter for approximately 20 months and sometimes the elk is able to shed itself from the collar. These radio collars help the biologists keep track of the elk herd.
Here is another style of radio collar that is seen less frequently on the elk. As you can see, this style features a long antenna to broadcast the signal of the transmitter.