Montana Deer:  An estimated population of 460,000 deer in 2015, somewhat higher than the estimated 455,000 in 2014.  Whitetails were increasing in 2016 with some increase in the east for mule deer.  The harsh winter in 2016-17 reducing populations.  About 58 percent mule deer and 42 percent whitetails.  Mule deer populations have been in a long decline since the 1970's.  Herd analysis at right.  Historical Montana deer hunting data and news archive.
Montana Deer News

Mule deer wasted on the side of a rural road March 24, 2017 Montana, KFBB NewsChannel 5
... three mule deer that were shot and left along side a rural road just northwest of Great Falls...  call 406-750-3574.

... A bill to increase the number of some hunting licenses for nonresidents would add $147,000 [PDF] in annual revenue for Fish, Wildlife and Parks ... 70 percent of their budget coming from nonresident license sales...

Hemorrhagic Disease in Montana N Anderson, J Ramsey, K Carson - Intermountain Journal of Sciences, 2017
... Hemorrhagic Disease (HD) is caused by two groups of orbiviruses, bluetongue (BT) and epizootic hemorrhagic disease (EHD)... HD was first documented in Montana in 1961... Until 2013 HD had been limited to the east side of the Rocky Mountain front.  However, in 2013 several counties in western Montana experience their first recorded EHD die-off in white-tailed deer...

FWP to form citizen panel on Chronic Wasting Disease March 14, 2017 Montana, Bozeman Daily Chronicle
... The condition can wipe out large portions of elk and deer herds ... “We’ve had confirmed cases within a few miles of Montana,” ...

Mule Deer Foundation reaching out to younger generation March 5, 2017 Montana, 8KPAX
... Over 300 people turned out for the Mule Deer Foundation banquet and learned that the group was rolling out a new mascot ... The new character, a six-foot tall mule deer ...

FWP solicits applications for CWD Citizen Advisory Panel March 2, 2017 Montana, kxlo-klcm
... Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is seeking 6 -12 individuals to serve on a chronic wasting disease citizen advisory panel to provide input on the agency’s management plan for the disease.  Chronic wasting disease(CWD) has not yet been found in Montana’s wild populations of deer, elk and moose ...

Lawmakers consider study of wasting disease February 21, 2017 Montana, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
... Senate Joint Resolution 9, which would order a study of chronic wasting disease... is spreading throughout the region and is likely to turn up in Montana... never been found in the wild in Montana, but it was discovered in a captive elk herd near Philipsburg in the late 1990s ..,

Montana Considers Banning Some Deer Urine Imports Over Disease February 9, 2017 CBS Sacramento
... would make it illegal for hunters to use deer or elk urine to mask their own odor if the urine came from one of the 23 states or two provinces with chronic wasting disease ... another bill that would ban certain animal carcasses and parts from those same states ...

Montana farmers, wildlife biggest losers from CRP cuts February 5, 2017 Great Falls Tribune
... Conservation Reserve Program ... t its height in 2007, 36.77 million acres were enrolled ...  including important deer and elk forage areas  ... gradual decline to 24 million acres by 2018... the cost of the CRP has barely declined at all ... 

  Biologist bracing for wildlife winter kill February 3, 2017 Montana, 
Ravalli Republic
...  in the Bitterroot Valley.  The lingering hard-crusted snowpack on traditional wintering grounds ... is certain will lead some mortality for elk and deer... there have been a couple of cases this winter of elk dying apparently after eating toxic ornamental plants in the Hamilton area ...

Moose migration fuels uptick in Montana sightings February 1, 2017 Great Falls Tribune
...Most of the sightings have been north of U.S. Highway 2, but moose have been reported as far south as the Missouri River ...  antelope and mule deer inhabit the open and rougher terrain. White-tailed deer abound along rivers and streams, and world-class elk and bighorn sheep herds inhabit the Missouri River Breaks ...

FWP proposes purchase of 425 acres along Bighorn River January 29, 2017 Montdana, The Missoulian
... The 425 acres borders the south end of the 141-acre Grant Marsh Wildlife Management Area, creating a larger block of habitat for species ranging from whitetail deer to pheasant ...

Urban deer population on the rise in Helena January 17, 2017 Montana, KXLH Helena News
...  currently about 250 deer within Helena city limits... they started culling deer in 2008 ...

Billings, Reward offered for information on deer poached in Billings December 28, 2016 Montana, KTVQ
... illegally killed the whitetail buck with an arrow next to Alkali Creek, just west of its intersection with Aronson Avenue, Monday...

Radio-collared moose still slow to give up secrets December 21, 2016 Montana, The Missoulian
... the historical record indicates moose weren’t even a regular resident of Montana until around 200 years ago. Lewis and Clark only reported seeing two moose during their Voyage of Discovery through Montana in 1805-06... In the Big Hole of Montana’s southwestern edge, disease drives the numbers...

State cougar plan will incorporate new monitoring, computer models December 11, 2016 Montana, The Missoulian
... The new way to estimate the mountain lion populations in these larger regions is based on a study in the Bitterroot Valley. FWP biologist Kelly Proffitt was the lead author of a 2015 peer-reviewed article about the study ...

A pair of mule deer bucks wander around a Bozeman, Montana, neighborhood on Dec. 8, 2016


Good mule deer harvest sign of Region 6 population recovering December 5, 2016 Montana, Billings Gazette
...Mule deer harvest of 507 for the year was up 49 percent from last year, and 7 percent above the long-term average. The total mule deer harvest numbers were the highest since 2010 ...

Elk harvest down, white-tailed deer harvest up December 2, 2016 Montana, Montana Standard
... A lack of snow caused a decrease in the elk harvest in southwest Montana during the 2016 hunting season ... climb in white-tailed deer harvest ... Although last winter led to some fawn mortality due to heavy snow, deer numbers stayed “pretty healthy,” ...

... The number of whitetail bucks checked this year (1,069) was nearly identical to last year ... Elk numbers at the check stations were down slightly and mule deer numbers were up...

Hunter success below average going into final weekend November 25, 2016 Montana, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
...  so far hunters in southwestern Montana have been having a tough year as weather conditions allow the state’s marquee big game animals to stay in the high country for longer...

Region 5 deer, elk harvest trends down from 2015 November 21, 2016 Montana, Billings Gazette
... For the year so far, the number of hunters who have stopped at Big Timber is 15 percent above average. The white-tailed deer harvest is slightly below average while the mule deer harvest is slightly higher that the long-term average. The elk harvest measured at Big Timber is about half that of last, but still above the long-term average ...

Game wardens looking for Tips on poached mule deer found November 21, 2016 Montana, abcfoxmontana.com
... seeking information about two mule deer bucks that were recently killed and left to waste east of Hamilton...

Dispelling notions about the deer rut November 17, 2016 Montana, Billings Gazette
... “The peak of the rut can change a little bit from nutrition — maybe as much as a week — but it is going to happen rain or shine. Does are programmed to cycle into estrous depending on their internal clock every year — it's both genetic and photo period.” ...

Northwest Montana deer harvest remains steady November 16, 2016 Daily Inter Lake
... Overall harvest was up 6.9 percent from last year, while the number of hunters is down about 8 percent.,,

Third week of hunting season stays slow November 16, 2016 Montana, Montana Standard
... hunter numbers were down considerably. The 7,879 counted so far through all three Region 2 check stations is about 12 percent below the five-year average. The peak was 10,259 in 2013... 

White-tailed Deer Harvest Steady in Northwest Montana November 15, 2016 Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks - Montana.gov
... At the six northwest Montana check stations through Sunday, November 13, a total of 10,977  hunters checked 785 white-tailed deer (497 of these were bucks), 113 mule deer, and 60 elk for a 8.7 percent rate of hunters with game.  Overall, harvest was up somewhat as compared to last year when 6.9 percent of hunters checked game.  Hunter numbers are down about eight percent as compared to last year...

Wildlife baiting still illegal in Montana November 15, 2016 Daily Inter Lake
... It’s OK to buy a deer lick in Montana ... Even if the intent is simply to boost a backyard’s wildlife-watching potential, state law forbids “purposely or knowingly attracting any cloven-hoofed ungulates, bears, or mountain lions with supplemental feed attractants.” ...

Great Falls, Information Sought on Wasted Mule Deer near Great Falls November 9, 2016 Montana, ktvh.com
... a middle-aged man who on Nov. 3 apparently shot and left a mule deer on private property just southeast of Great Falls...

FWP ramps up Chronic Wasting Disease sampling November 8, 2016 Montana, Sidney Herald Leader
... The only documented cases of CWD in Montana were in captive animals at a game farm in Philipsburg in 1999; however, CWD has been detected in free-ranging populations in 19 other states and two Canadian provinces – some very near the border with Montana... there is little funding available for testing efforts ...

... Warm temperatures and light wind over the weekend made big game hunting in south-central Montana difficult. Hunters were able to access areas well above 9,000 feet in the Beartooth Mountains without finding significant snow. But the lack of winter weather made finding and tracking game a challenge...

... check stations near Anaconda, Darby and Bonner so far this season is in line with this time in 2014 and down 13% from last year, due largely to unseasonably warm weather ... Mule deer harvest through the first two weeks was up slightly from last year ...

Final suspect sentenced in major wildlife investigation November 7, 2016 Montana, NBC Montana
...  illegal harvest of potentially 29 deer and one elk in 2013 and 2014. Officers were able to gather enough evidence to file charges on 15 of the poached deer and the cow elk... The majority of the suspects were high school students under the age of 18 ...

... Ashland saw 161 hunters bring 48 mule deer, two white-tailed deer, 25 antelope and three elk through. That’s compared to 116 hunters bagging 15 mule deer, seven white-tailed deer, 10 antelope and one elk in 2015...

Study shows high-risk highways for wildlife collisions November 2, 2016 Montana, NBC Montana
... A study by the Center for Large Landscape Conservation shows the top 10 stretches of Montana highway you're most likely to hit an animal on... wildlife organizations ... say investing in wildlife overpasses and underpasses or even fencing could save drivers money in the long run...

Whitetail Deer Harvest slows down in Northwest Montana November 2, 2016 Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks - Montana.gov
... At the six northwest Montana check stations through Sunday, October 30, a total of 6,051 hunters checked 454 white-tailed deer (220 of these were bucks), 51 mule deer, and  45 elk for a 9.1 percent rate of hunters with game.  This compares to a 7.2 percent rate of hunters with game last year ...

Damp conditions slow big-game hunt October 31, 2016 Montana, The Missoulian
... Missoula-based Region 2 hunters reported an overall 7.2 percent success rate, although those coming through the Bonner station were a percentage point better...

... The most dangerous stretch of roadway in Montana for wildlife-vehicle collisions is on U.S. Highway 93 on the northwest side of Flathead Lake ... recording 357 carcasses on a 10-mile stretch of highway during the fall months between 2010 and 2015...

... left to waste off the side of South Sunset Bench Road near Stevensville, just west of its intersection with La Fontaine road...

Deer talk to each other with sounds, smells and actions October 26, 2013 Montana, Billings Gazette
... Like dogs, a deer’s tail can send signals. Quick flicks from side to side can indicate that the deer is at ease... female deer will urinate frequently to alert bucks that they are ready for breeding ...

Deer harvest up along Rocky Mountain Front October 24, 2016 Montana, Billings Gazette
... Whitetail numbers in the Augusta area are strong ... Mule deer numbers as observed during 2016 spring surveys are above recent averages as well. But very little elk harvest ...

Corvallis man charged with poaching deer, bear October 21, 2016 Montana, The Missoulian
... Cook was cited in 2004 by the California Department of Fish and Game for spotlighting a buck out of season and discharging a weapon within 150 yards of a residence. Cook didn’t appear on those charges and subsequently moved to Montana... faces a felony count of unlawful possession of illegally killed game animal for the trophy white-tailed buck...

...  For prey that’s easy to find and quick to consume, go lone-wolf. For targets that are harder to find or manage once caught, run with the pack. ... published “Prey-foraging: The collective search or lone-wolf approach” in the journal PLOS Computational Biology  ...

... A FWP study shows that the white tail deer population is on the rise after suffering a decline between 2006 and 2010, while mule deer numbers continue to remain lower than the historical average... [read the outlook]

Nonresident big game licenses sell out; sign of better times October 16, 2016 Montana, Billings Gazette
... licenses sold out this year as deer and elk numbers improve along with the economy...

Helena Police Department conducts deer census October 14, 2016 Montana, KXLH
... a group of officers drives the same 32-mile route through the city, at 10 miles an hour... City leaders introduced the deer census and cull in 2008 ... Since then, about 800 deer have been culled ...

Wolf hunting in the West September 29, 2016 Montana, Tri-State Livestock News
... Darby, Montana ... Deer and elk numbers are still down but we’re seeing a slight increase again in the elk... The Fish and Game Department sells an unlimited number of [wolf] tags but there are quotas in some areas; once those target numbers are reached, the hunt is closed...

... The local chapter of the Mule Deer Foundation is offering a $1,000 reward for information that leads to the conviction of whoever shot a 5-point mule deer buck in Uptown Butte early Monday...

Montana data:  In 2015 an estimated 264,546 mule deer and  about 195,000 whitetails for a total of about 460,000.  In 2016 white-tailed deer were generally increasing from a low in 2010 while mule deer numbers remained low with some recovery in the east.  See the 2016 big game outlook for a detailed summary of 2016 conditions. Heavy snow in 2016 resulted in fawn mortality, but white-tail populations remained stable. Favorable weather in 2014-15 led to a fair improvement in deer populations, stable in some areas.  In 2014 an estimated 181,086 white-tailed deer and 273,756 mule deer for a total of about 455,000.  The 2015 spring survey showed white-tailed numbers about unchanged with mule deer numbers at or above averages from Glosgow and east but at or lower in the west, the Malta and Havre area.  Mule deer populations were up about 20 percent, fawn recruitment at 60 per 100 does was excellent, buck to doe ratio at 37 to 100 in 2015.  About 100,000 hunters in 2015.  65 percent of the state’s the deer and 40 percent of the elk are on private property.  Deer and elk populations have been doing better on private land than on public land where they are over hunted.
     For 2014 the mule deer harvest was 42 percent below the 10-year average, 7 percent below for white-tails, and 12 percent above for elk.  In 2013 an estimated 193,049 white-tailed and 218,883 mule deer.  In the northwest white-tailed deer were still recovering from the population low of 2009 and mule deer numbers 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.  A total of 281,000 mule deer estimated [PDF] for 2010
     In the southeast there was above-average precipitation in 2014, mule deer herds 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 and 2012 EHD outbreaks 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 further reducing whitetail populations. EHD is new to Montana and primarily affects whitetails.   
     A significant decline in the 2013 deer hunt, FWP 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.  Revenues fell, tags were increased again, but when the population fell again, tags were cut.  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. The Effects of Special Mule Deer Buck Regulations on Mule Deer Populations and Harvest [PDF, 2011]
      Chronic wasting disease (CWD) has not been detected in Montana's wild deer, but was detected in captive elk at a game farm near Philipsburg in 1999.  
     Moose populations, which have been hunted since 1872, have been on the decline based on most of the data and FWP is trying to determine why.  Hunting, predation, parasites, and climate change are suspected factors.  Antelope have not recovered from the severe winter of 2010-11 and disease, currently at about 90,000.
     Elk, about 140,000 in 2014.  Above target populations in many districts in 2016.
     Wolves, a verified 554 in 2014, down 12 percent from 2013, although the total is thought to be higher, 750 to 800 in 2015.  About 650 wolves in 2012, 550 wolves in 2011  Thought to be virtually extinct up to 1973.

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

Other useful links:
- Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks
-- Fire.org ... issues concerning wildland fire planning, behavior, fuel, weather, and effects.

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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.