Comparing interspecific differences in ungulate habitat use in response to coal mine reclamation
Extracting coal through surface mining can damage natural habitats because it removes and fragments forests, grasslands, and shrub lands. Coal mines near Hinton, Alberta, our study area, have been reclaimed to reduce the negative effects of mining on the environment and on wildlife as per regulations in the Alberta Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act. Our study area consists of bighorn sheep, elk, and mule deer populations that use the vegetation, minerals, and topographic features of the reclaimed mines for food, protection from predators, and thermal cover. The main objective of our research is to examine each species habitat use on the reclaimed mines to compare how each species responds to mining and reclamation. Our research will help to understand which features of mining and reclamation are most important and least important to each species so that future reclamation activities will benefit the persistence of these wildlife populations.