Montana Deer News

... While CWD has been detected in states and provinces surrounding Montana, to date the only CWD-positive animals detected in the state were part of a game farm near Philipsburg in 1999. Those animals were destroyed, according to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks website... The new surveillance program ... may provide information about the spread of CWD...

Commission considers female mule deer tags December 15, 2014 Montana, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
... Big Game Management Chief John Vore said that mule deer have recovered from the lows of 2011 and 2012 and fawn recruitment has been good.  “Mule deer populations are cyclic, and our biologist down there has seen a slight uptick. But this proposal is mainly because of a habitat concern,” ...

Wardens looking for tips on mule deer poached in Stevensville December 12, 2014 Montana, Ravalli Republic
...  a mule deer buck that was poached and then abandoned near the railroad tracks just behind Stevensville School... call the TIP-MONT hotline at 1-800-847-6668.

FWP investigates deer left to waste in Sanders Co. December 11, 2014 Montana,  NBC Montana
... seven whitetail deer carcasses discovered in Sanders County...  Call 1-800-TIP-MONT

FWP may bring back antlerless mule deer tags in some areas December 11, 2014 Montana, Independent Record 
... The proposed changes come after concerns last hunting season that the switch to buck-only seasons led to an overharvest of bucks and signs that mule deer have rebounded in several areas, said Wildlife Management Bureau Chief John Vore...

Hunting season in Montana starts slow, ends strong December 3, 2014 Montana, Great Falls Tribune 
... The total elk harvest finished about 12 percent above the 10-year average, according to Brent Lonner, FWP wildlife biologist. The mule deer harvest was approximately 42 percent below the 10-year average, and white-tailed deer taken was 7 percent below the average...

Hunter numbers and success down at Helena check station December 2, 2014 Montana, Helena Independent Record
... Hunter numbers and success were the lowest reported in the last five years at the Silver City check station near Canyon Creek this hunting season... more than 30 percent below the average ...

... The big game hunting season closed on Sunday with elk and mule deer harvest on par with last season, and white-tailed deer harvest solidly higher at all three hunter check stations in west-central Montana...

... in Northwest Montana ... 1,138 white-tailed deer, including 988 bucks ... slightly ahead of last year ... The mule deer harvest saw a slight increase, with 139 reported at check stations. That was the second most in five years since 159 were reported in 2010... The number of elk being harvested has declined for five consecutive years...

... Whitetail deer harvest is up at the station compared to last year, elk numbers are a little lower than in the past ...

... "A lot of our urban deer - believe it or not - stay in town all the time. They're born in town, they live in town. The hunting season may bring a few extra deer in some places on the fringes where they know they can find those safe spots ... there may be a little change, but not a lot," ...


Missoula, Urban deer: Asset or hindrance in Missoula November 26, 2014 Montana, KAJ18 Kalispell Montana News
... Legislation was granted back in 2003 in Montana to give cities permission to control the population, but Missoula has no current plan to take action...

Deer harvest slightly ahead of last year November 24, 2014 Montana, Northwest Montana News Source
... hrough Sunday, Nov. 23, a total of 14,194 hunters checked in game at the six Northwest Montana check stations, including 879 white-tailed deer, of which 766 were bucks, compared to 842 whitetails last year.  The hunters also checked 124 mule deer and 43 elk ...

White-Tailed Deer Harvest Up In West-Central Montana November 24, 2014 Montana, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
   White-tailed deer harvest picked up markedly at the Bonner Check Station in the fourth week of the general big game hunting season, and whitetail harvest remained higher than last year’s pace at the Anaconda and Darby Check Stations in west-central Montana.  FWP employees and volunteers kept busy checking 99 white-tailed deer on Saturday and Sunday at Bonner, raising the total to 294 white-tailed deer checked through Bonner so far this season, up 17 percent from last year and 14 percent above the four-year average.  The mule deer harvest of 52 was also up at Bonner, 10 more than at this time last year and more than any season since 2010...

8KPAX 
... through Nov. 17, a total of 11,233 hunters checked 597 white-tailed deer (511 of these were bucks), 108 mule deer, and 38 elk for a 6.6% rate of hunters with game. Harvest was similar to last year when 6.2% of hunters checked game...

Had video set up but wasn't monitoring. I was glassing the area around with binoculars watching other deer. I just wanted to record their behavior. I love when the bigger buck chases off the smaller guy. Didn't see this until we watched the video later. Just as the video starts, you'll see a wolf in the upper center area. - November 21, 2014


FWP offers reward for illegal deer kill south of Billings November 17, 2014 Montana,  Connect Billings
... a mule deer buck that was killed illegally and left to waste south of Billings on Nov. 12 ... along Hillcrest Road south of Billings ... reward ...

... Elk harvest recorded at Bonner remains low this season, with 37 elk checked so far, 16% below last year's pace. Deer harvest remains up with 43 mule deer, compared to 25 at this point in the 2013 season, and 195 white-tailed deer, compared to 188...

Hunting surprise: a doe with antlers November 12, 2014 Montana, Daily Inter Lake
...  she found the whitetail she killed was no buck but rather a doe with antlers... small, 4-inch-long antlers that didn’t fork...

...  through Nov. 9 ... The number of whitetail bucks checked is up 26%, mule deer numbers are about the same, and elk numbers are down 22% as compared to last year's check station results at the same point in the season. Hunter numbers are down 7%.... 

Hunters see mixed success on opening weekend October 30, 2014 Montana, Great Falls Tribune
... Rocky Mountain Front: Hunters took home fewer elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer on opening weekend compared to the past four years... West central Montana:  more hunters and more big game animals over the weekend than last year ... Northwest Montana: Northwest Montana saw a solid opening weekend, reflecting the good fawn recruitment over the past three years...

Deer, elk rifle season that opens Saturday is link to ancient humans October 30, 2014 Montana, Longview Daily News
... “It’s hard to say that we’re hardwired to hunt,” said Mike Neeley, a Montana State University anthropology professor who has specifically studied hunter-gatherer adaptations. “Certainly meat has been an important part of our diet … linked to the expansion of our brains” ... for at least 400,000 years, and maybe much longer, humans actively hunted animals ...

Solid Opener for White-tailed Deer in NW Montana October 27, 2014 Montana, FlatheadBeacon 
 ... Hunters had a 6.2 percent success rate, compared to a 4.1 percent rate of hunters with game last year...  a total of 3,154 hunters checked 150 white-tailed deer, including 123 bucks, along with 33 mule deer and 11 elk...

Fewer elk, deer taken opening weekend on Front October 27, 2014 Montana, Great Falls Tribune 
...  fewer elk, mule deer and white-tailed deer this year compared to the past four years... Two mule deer bucks were checked in; over the past four years, hunters averaged 15 mule deer ... fewer antlerless deer and elk licenses available ...

Elk, deer populations improving as hunting season kicks off October 24, 2014 Montana, Ravalli Republic 
... Elk numbers were well above average for the Gravelly Mountains and Tobacco Roots of Region 3, and slightly above average in the Highlands, Whitetail and Bull mountains ... In the Region 2 area around Missoula and the Bitterroot Valley, calf recruitment in 2014 was higher than it’s been for several years ...
...  With the state's mule deer population being affected by loss of habitat and predation, and hunters facing sportsmen's access issues, MDF has been fielding calls to start new chapters in Montana. Michael Kuiper of Great Falls started earlier this month as regional director in western Montana to provide more support to this part of the state...

New hunting season means new hope October 23, 2014 Montana, Great Falls Tribune 
... Region Four ... elk numbers are still strong and mule deer are stable though still below long-term averages.  Whitetail deer numbers are showing signs of recovery after being devastated last year by Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD ... In one area they noted a doe-to-fawn ratio of 61 fawns per 100 does...

Poachers sentenced for killing 10 deer October 23, 2014 Montana, Daily Inter Lake
... They killed the deer at night in the Farm-to-Market area north of Kalispell in December 2013 — after the general hunting season had ended.  The meat was left to waste...

For A Few Years, Please Don't Shoot Anterless Whitetail Deer October 22, 2014 Montana, Glasgow Courier
... between Hinsdale and Nashua, for 5 miles on each side of the Milk River.  These deer were hit very hard during the winter of 2010-2011, and then suffered an EHD epidemic that same summer, all of which resulted in a 95 percent die-off. That is the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks' statistic. Since then, the numbers have not appreciably increased...

Shelby, Deer Poached Near Shelby October 22, 2014 Montana, MontanaOutddoor.com
... The deer was discovered Oct. 11 near the Marias River in an area known as Robertson Bottom, 10 miles southeast of Shelby...  1-800-TIPMONT

Flathead deer poaching incidents stir anger October 17, 2014 Montana, 8KPAX
... FWP is looking for the person - or persons - responsible for the numerous poaching cases involving whitetail deer along the entire stretch of Farm to Market Road... appear to be random acts of violence and the deer have been shot and just left to die...
KAJ18 Kalispell Montana News
... wasting of numerous deer along the entire length of Farm to Market Road - and west of Kalispell toward Kila.... call 1.800.TIP.MONT where you can remain anonymous ... 

Montana Deer Population Rebounding in Southeast October 16, 2014 bigskyblog.com
... Recent changes to land usage and regulations in hunting have allowed for the populations of the white-tail and mule deer to increase. Other factors affecting population numbers include lessened fawn mortality, increased survival rates, as well as increased production rates...

Kremlin, FWP asks for help with poached deer October 2, 2014 Montana, Havre Daily News 
... on Sept. 2, a red pickup was seen chasing a deer through stubble and standing crop fields. The deer was killed and dragged for nearly 4.5 miles... a reward of up to $5,000 ... call 1-800-TIP-MONT 

... An outbreak of epizootic hemorrhagic disease, (EHD) had killed hundreds of whitetail deer in the Missoula Valley at this time last year - marking the first time that EHD was found west of the Continental Divide... 

Haugan, FWP Wardens Look For Help After Finding Deer Poached In Haugan September 30, 2014 Montana, abcfoxmontana.com 
... An employee at the 50,000 Silver Dollar gas station called it in ... call 1-800-TIP-Mont 

Deer populations still rebounding from declines September 29, 2014 Montana, Independent Record 
... Mule deer numbers have experienced recent declines in many areas of Montana but should be improving with favorable weather and habitat conditions in 2014.  Recent seasonal insect-related disease outbreaks have reduced white-tailed deer populations in parts of eastern, central and west-central Montana. Other areas have stable populations with favorable weather and habitat conditions in 2014 enhancing recruitment levels across the state...

Possible poaching near campus September 24, 2014 Montana, Montana Kaimin
... Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials are seeking information regarding a deer that may have been killed illegally on University of Montana property...  call the FWP anonymous hotline 1-800-TIP-MONT (225-5847).

Population numbers bode well for elk hunt September 20, 2014 Montana, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
... Elk populations are doing well in most areas of the state while a few are characterized as at least stable.  Even in the Bitterroot drainage in western Montana where population has declined in the past, biologists report an improved calf crop ...

... Mule deer numbers have experienced recent declines in many areas of Montana but should be improving with favorable weather and habitat conditions in 2014. Recent seasonal insect-related disease outbreaks have reduced white-tailed deer populations in parts of eastern, central and west-central Montana...

2014 Deer hunting outlook September 18, 2014 Montana, kxlo-klcm
... Mule deer numbers have experienced recent declines in many areas of Montana but should be improving with favorable weather and habitat conditions in 2014. Recent seasonal insect-related disease outbreaks have reduced white-tailed deer populations in parts of eastern, central and west-central Montana.  Other areas have stable populations with favorable weather and habitat conditions ...

Deer-vehicle crashes decline in state, but odds still high September 16, 2014 Montana, The Montana Standard 
... A new report from State Farm shows Montana drivers are more than 15 percent less likely to hit a deer over the next 12 months than the past 12 months... Because of mating and hunting seasons, deer are more likely to be moving -– and crossing roads -– during October, November and December. The animals are most active during dusk and dawn...

Deer population rebounds in southeastern Montana September 11, 2014 Montana, The Missoulian
...  deer populations in Region 7 ... trend surveys indicate that mule deer are 8 percent below the long-term average, compared with 32 percent last year and 57 percent after the back-to-back severe winters of 2009-10 and 2010-11... In 2011, white-tailed deer numbers took a big hit from widespread outbreaks of epizootic hemorrhagic disease... above-average precipitation this year ... 61 fawns to 100 adults across the region for both mule deer and whitetails.

Hunting season brings opportunity amid low whitetail numbers September 10, 2014 Montana, Montana Kaimin
... Missoula County’s whitetail deer numbers are low after an outbreak of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease killed nearly 400 deer last fall...  has never been reported in Western Montana... “We really don’t see it in elk and we really don’t see it in mule deer.” ...

Deer populations rebound in southeast Montana September 3, 2014 KBZK Bozeman News
... trend surveys indicate that mule deer are 8% below long-term average (LTA), compared to 32% below LTA last year and 57% below LTA after the back-to-back severe winters 2009-10 and 2010-11... "the above average precipitation this year has resulted in excellent forage conditions ... Fawn-to-adult ratios ... have been pegged at 61 fawns to 100 adults ...

Hunting license revenue falls short August 18, 2014 Montana, Independent Record 
... In 2010, a ballot initiative significantly raised prices for nonresident big game licenses. Before 2010, FWP instituted a lottery system as many more nonresident hunters applied than the state had licenses available ... As of Friday afternoon, more than 1,700 big game combos, nearly 1,700 elk combos and more than 550 deer combos remained.

Man sentenced for Whitefish deer poaching August 14, 2014 Montana, Whitefish Pilot 
... The last of four Columbia Falls men charged with poaching about 19 white-tailed deer near Whitefish in 2012 has been sentenced in Flathead County Justice Court... Erickson was sentenced to six months in jail, all suspended, and ordered to pay $4,820 in fines and $2,000 in restitution ...

Tips sought in Hamilton area deer poaching case August 7, 2014 Montana, KPAX-TV
... State wildlife officials are looking for tips on a deer poaching case that took place northwest of Hamilton in the neighborhood of Westhills Way on Wednesday... the deer was accompanied by two fawns. The shots were heard at 11:50 a.m ...  call 1-800-TIP-MONT ...

Montana prairie reserve tops 300,000 acres July 31, 2014 The Missoulian
... A privately funded conservation reserve taking shape on north-central Montana's open prairie ... The aspirations of the project's backers stretch beyond just bison. They envision a vast grasslands ecosystem restored to its natural origins — populated with a diverse mix of mule deer, mountain lions, big horn sheep and grassland birds...

... “The York Gulch acquisition will be a remarkable benefit to the outdoors enthusiast in the area because it ensures that we all will have access to some incredible Forest Service land that otherwise could be closed up and untouchable for us,” commented Steve Miller, current MDF Montana state chair and Lewis & Clark chapter chair. ...

Aerial survey shows deer recovering July 23, 2014 Montana, Great Falls Tribune
... Region 6 mule deer, white-tailed deer and pronghorn antelope numbers took a big hit in the severe winter of 2010-11, and additional mortality, especially among whitetails, was caused by scattered outbreaks of epizootic hemorrhagic disease, commonly known as EHD. .. deer population trend and status running about 10 percent below the long-term-average ...

 Wolves a healthy factor, humans not July 21, 2014 Montana, The Missoulian
... In 2010, per Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Outdoors Magazine (March-April 2011), Montana “sportsmen” killed 51,000 whitetail deer, 44,000 mule deer, 25,000 elk and 19,000 pronghorn, not counting approximately 1,300 black bear and thousands of birds in sporting fun... Elk and deer do not need to be saved from wolves ...

Can FWP do anything right? July 19, 2014 Montana, Daily Inter Lake
... Following the winter of 96-97, the experts dropped just about all the “B” tags for whitetail does ... they realized they were not pulling in the revenue they needed for all their pet projects, so they started increasing the “B” tags for does... Pretty good revenue enhancer.  Unfortunately, even the specialists at FWP realized the whitetail deer population was nose-diving... 

Reward offered in Roundup poaching case July 18, 2014 Montana, KTVQ 
...  someone killed two mule deer on private property off of Fattig Creek Road south of Roundup ... FWP's 24-hour wildlife tip line at 1-800-TIP-MONT (800-847-6668)... reward of up to $1,000 ...

... on the night of Sunday, June 29, a whitetail deer was shot on Smith Lake Road near Kila.  The suspect vehicle is a white 1980's model small pickup truck similar to a Chevy S10...  call 1.800.TIP.MONT...

Butte, Anaconda men convicted in poaching cases July 3, 2014 Montana, Great Falls Tribune 
...  three illegally taken bull elk, one white-tailed deer and a bighorn sheep at an Anaconda residence... Bowen lost his hunting and fishing privileges for 10 years, may not accompany anyone in the act of hunting, fishing or trapping during his 18 month suspended jail sentence, and must pay $1,500 in fines and $8,500 in restitution...

Montana surplus big-game tags on sale June 26, 2014 The Spokesman-Review 
... Nonresident surplus hunting licenses available include:  Montana’s big game combination license for $971, Elk combination license for $821, Deer combo for $575...

2014 Deer, Elk, and Antelope Quotas Outside Biennial Quota Ranges June 18, 2014 Montana, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
     Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is requesting public review and comment on proposed 2014 deer, elk, and antelope quotas outside biennial quota ranges and 2014-2015 bison hunter requirements and roster use: 
     2014 Deer, Elk, and Antelope Quotas Outside Biennial Quota Ranges – Proposed 
The deadline for public comment on this item is 5 p.m., Monday, July 7. 
     2014-2015 Bison Hunter Requirements and Roster Use – Proposed 
The deadline for public comment on this item is 5 p.m., Monday, July 7

FWP seeks big game hunting licenses auction proposals June 14, 2014 Montana, Laurel Outlook 
... Montana Fish & Wildlife Parks (FWP) is seeking proposals from groups or individuals interested in auctioning a 2015 bighorn sheep, moose, mountain goat, deer or elk hunting license to raise conservation funds... 

Commission approves mountain lion quotas June 13, 2014 Montana,  Independent Record 
... the decision irked some hunters concerned that the quotas do not do enough to protect elk and deer from the big cats in the Bitterroot Valley...  a contentious April commission meeting in which houndsmen testified in force that lion populations had fallen and that proposals called for harvesting too many females ... 

...  we analyzed a data set of >490,000 deer and elk license records from 2002 to 2011 from the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks' Automated Licensing System...  Because Baby Boomers constitute such a large proportion of the hunting population, decreases in recruitment and retention in this cohort drove declines in the Montana hunter population... The hunter population was stable until 2006, but has been declining since that time with nearly a 50% decline in hunter recruitment from 2002 to 2011...

... between Hamilton and Pinesdale on Bowman Road. One white-tailed deer was killed with an arrow and abandoned sometime during the evening of Friday, May 23...  call 1-800-847-6668. 

Family 'pet' deer put down by state May 27, 2014 Montana, Belgrade News
... Davis spotted the fawn, alone, near her home west of Belgrade. Davis said the fawn’s mother and sibling were killed by a dog... she couldn’t watch the small creature starve to death. ... Knowing that if she turned the animal over to the FWP that it would be euthanized, Davis decided to save the fawn. Two months ago, her pet deer was taken by local Fish, Wildlife and Parks authorities and euthanized. ... In other states, there are rescue centers for orphan animals like Sassy. Davis hopes to start something like that in Montana...

Missoula, Urban deer: Cute but a growing nuisance in Missoula May 17, 2014 The Missoulian
... “Urban deer was the most important issue and the top concern,” said Andrew Cheezem in a recent report to the Missoula City Council.... Wilkins said he doesn’t foresee putting any new programs into place soon... Some people who complain about deer getting into their gardens don’t even put up fences, and he said they can buy deer repellent at many nurseries as well...

Many Wildlife Management Areas Open for Shed Hunting This Week May 12, 2014 Montana, montanaoutdoor.com
... Opening day to many of Montana’s Wildlife Management Areas will take place this Thursday, and shed hunters will be lined up ready to scour for some antlers.  Opening day is a popular, some might even say raucous, event...

Disappointed in FWP 5-year plan for game May 2, 2014 Montana, The Western News
... Following the winter of ‘96-’97, the experts dropped just about all the “B” tags for whitetail does. They argued that the winter hammered the deer, which it did.
But not soon after, they realized they were not pulling in the revenue they needed for all their pet projects, so they started increasing the “B” tags for does...  even the specialists at FWP realized the whitetail deer population was nose-diving. They cut the seasons back ...

... a. Exclosures were baited and monitored for two winters to determine how well they deterred ungulate crossings. Results indicate effective modifications can be made to existing fences for $500 - $1,350 per mile for materials. Different designs proved to 
have varying levels of effectiveness, with six-foot woven wire being 100 percent effective. These fences are a cost-effective way to fence out wildlife in many high-value areas where traditional game fences are not practical. If farmers and ranchers can keep big game animals out of important foraging areas, resulting in reduced depredation losses, their tolerance for these animals may increase on the rest of their property.

Moose Status and Management in Montana  NJ DeCesare, TD Smucker, RA Garrott, JA Gude - ALCES, 2014 [PDF]
... Moose (Alces alces) are currently widespread across Montana where regulated moose hunting has occurred since 1872 ...  data suggest a declining trend in the statewide population,despite some ambiguity of certain data. Potential limiting factors include harvest, predation, vegetativesuccession and degradation, parasites, and climatic conditions, which were all identified as concerns in surveys of state biologists...

Hunters refute FWP mountain lion study April 14, 2014 Montana, MTPR
... Opponents of the study accuse the state of using a faulty method to come to the higher population. They say the lion numbers are much lower, and hunting quotas should be lowered. The most vocal supporters of bringing down these quotas are the lion hunters themselves...

Helena, Police Remove Just 51 Deer from City Limits April 11, 2014 Montana, Beartooth NBC
...  police stopped at 51 deer because the city is beginning to reach its goal of reducing the deer population to address safety concerns...

Mule Deer Workshop April 11, 2014 Montana, Riverton Radio
...  a workshop to discuss their future management at the Lander Regional Office on April 24th at 6 p.m...

Two C-Falls deer poachers have been sentenced April 9, 2014 Montana, Northwest Montana News Source
... The misdemeanor charges included waste of game, using artificial light to hunt big game, unlawful possession of big game animals, and hunting during a closed season...

Elk numbers climb in Montana's Region 6 April 6, 2014 Billings Gazette
...  in northeastern and north-central Montana ... More than 830 elk were counted ... One of the reasons for the rising elk population is that hunting on private land in the island mountain range is restricted... The bull-cow ratio in the Bears Paw Mountains was 63 bulls to 100 cows, which is 11 percent below the long-term average...

Elk plan in cross hairs  April 6, 2014 Montana, Great Falls Tribune 
... The plan calls for allowing the FWP to issue kill permits on ranches in the Paradise Valley until May 15 ... to prevent the spread of brucellosis through the commingling of elk and cattle... Opponents of the plan say it sets a bad precedent that would harm native wildlife populations and interrupt migration corridors for elk, deer, antelope and other large mammals. Critics also say the plan allows for lethal removal of cow elk too late in the reproductive cycle...

...  remember that deer are usually most active between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m., and they almost always travel in herds...



...  Create a base hunting license that would be a prerequisite to purchasing individual species tags and would replace the current archery stamp. The price of $10 for residents and $15 for nonresidents ... Moose populations across Montana have been declining for years ...  Antelope have yet to rebound from a devastating die-off in 2010-11 during record snowfall that killed thousands, while disease also picked off hundreds. The only big game that seems to be thriving is elk ...

Montana data:  An estimated 225,000 White Tail Deer and 203,000 Mule Deer statewide.  For 2014 FWP reports that in the northwest white-tailed deer are still recovering from the population low of 2009 and mule deer numbers are still low.  In the west white-tails are stable to increasing while mule deer are below average.  In the southwest white-tails are stable and mule deer are increasing somewhat from the lows of 2010-11.
     In the southeast there has been above-average precipitation, mule deer herds have recovered somewhat to about 8 percent below the trend compared to 57 percent below the trend after the severe winters of 2009-10 and 2010-11.  The 2011 EHD outbreak reduced white-tail populations but they are recovering with an average of 61 yearlings per 100 adults in 2014 based on good forage and precipitation.   Deer in the northeast, Region 6, took a serious hit in the severe winter of 2010-11 with EHD (disease) further reducing whitetail populations, but they are re bounding in many areas..  Hunting will be restricted in Region 6 for 2014.  Elk populations are stable in the northwest, above average in the west, and slightly increasing in the southwest.  About 140,000 in 2014  Even in the Bitterroot area of the west, where the population had declined recently, biologists report an good calf crop. 
     A significant decline in the 2013 deer hunt, FWP has implemented restrictions to restore the herd including reduced hunting pressure, hunting of only mature male mule deer and only white-tailed bucks in three eastern regions.  
    Mule deer populations fell by about 55% from the 2006-2008 recent peak to 2012 as a result of severe winters from 2009 to 2011.   Mule deer populations have  been in a long decline, since the 1970's.  The winter of 96 - 97 took a heavy toll, doe licenses were substantially reduced in an effort to boost the population.  One issue has been suppression of fire beginning in the 70;s that improved deer habitat., but reasons for the decline are not well understood and under study.   Antelope populations have followed a similar pattern.  White tail populations suffered from  a severe epidemic of episodic hemorrhagic disease (EHD) in 2012.  Deer and elk populations have been doing better on private land than on public land where they are over hunted. So far, chronic wasting disease (CWD) has only been detected in deer at a game farm near Philipsburg in 1999.
     Moose populations have been on the decline and FWP is trying to determine why.  Antelope have not recovered from the severe winter of 2010-11 and disease, currently at about 90,000.  About 650 wolves in 2012, 550 wolves in 2011.
     Legislation passed in 2003 gave cities permission to control deer populations with urban hunts.

Report poaching:  1.800.TIP.MONT  Reward of up to $1,000.  Callers can remain anonymous.  1-800-847-6668. 

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What is the basis for Adaptive Harvest Management in Montana?
Research on mule deer populations and habitats began in the mid-1970s with an unexpected decline in mule deer populations in the western states. Researchers initiated mule deer population studies in the Bridger Mountains of southwest Montana, in the Missouri River Breaks of north-central Montana and in the prairie-badlands along Cherry Creek in the southeastern part of the state to learn what factors influence the number of mule deer from year-to-year. Today with more than 25 years of research on mule deer, this work is one of the most comprehensive studies of a big game species ever compiled in North America.
     Another mule deer population decline in the mid-1990s focused attention on the task of integrating the knowledge gained in the past 25 years into a systematic deer management strategy that can be applied consistently across the state. This is the work underway today.