Montana Deer News

Tangled-up deer gets freedom February 27, 2015 Montana, Daily Inter Lake
... A twine-encumbered whitetail deer, spotted throughout the Whitefish area over the past two months, has been rescued from its entanglement by wildlife officials...  people reported that the remainder appeared to have tightened around its neck...

... Six white-tailed deer were discovered on Feb. 14 in a pile just south of Glendive in the Short Pine OHV area on Marsh Road. Four of the deer were bucks, two were does... contact Warden Kaiser directly at 406-853-7900 ...

Elk poaching leads to fines for 5 people February 26, 2015 Montana, Daily Inter Lake
... A ranch manager on Garcon Gulch Road near Hot Springs alerted tribal wardens last October after learning that a six-point bull elk had been shot on his property... Hunting by nonmembers within the boundaries of the Flathead Indian Reservation is prohibited, ...

Roadkill-permitting bill would help prevent poaching February 25, 2015 Montana, Helena Independent Record
...  House Bill 351, which would require those wishing to take roadkill to first have the animal checked by a peace officer...

... Known as “Whitetail Prairie,” the property adjoins the 32,000-acre Beartooth Wildlife Management Area and was immediately conveyed to the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department to be added to the WMA...

... A crossbow bolt stuck in a tree near a headless deer last September was the first clue of many that helped a state game warden track down a Stevensville poacher... It is illegal to use bait for big game in Montana...

... Republican Senator Steve Daines is holding three meetings on timber issues in Montana next week... Invited participants include ... the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation and the Mule Deer Foundation...

Fish and Wildlife Commission approves several management proposals February 12, 2015 Montana, Independent Record 
... Hunters in several districts across the state will have the opportunity to harvest antlerless mule deer in the upcoming season.  The reinstitution of antlerless harvest comes a year after FWP eliminated most tags across the state, citing struggling populations...

New protected lands are good for wildlife, all Montanans February 9, 2015 Montana, Helena Independent Record
... the Nature Conservancy has taken another big step toward protecting these crucial lands for future generations through their recent purchase of more than 117,000 acres of former Plum Creek Timber land in the Blackfoot watershed...  used by more than 7,000 deer and elk hunters every fall...

Let nature handle color crowned deer February 7, 2015 Montana, NBC Montana
... It appears to be yarn stuck on the deer's antlers. We know it's been there for at least two weeks ...  Officials say it's better to just wait for the deer's antlers to fall off ...

Habitat Quality Influences Migratory Strategy of Female White-Tailed Deer January, 2015 ScholarWorks - University of Montana
... We integrated the migration probability and survival models to estimate annual and seasonal survival rates of migrants and residents. We found little difference between the annual and seasonal rates of survival. Annual survival rates for migrants and residents were 0.87 (SD = 0.06) and 0.83 (SD = 0.07), respectively. Our results indicate that access to habitat of high quality may be a strong influence on a female white-tailed deer’s decision to migrate. We suggest the presence of partial migration in a population may be a response to competition for high quality habitat...

Indian tribes, game wardens dispute hunting rights January 28, 2015 Montana, Great Falls Tribune
... On Jan. 19, several Fort Belknap tribal members assembled on tribally controlled land just west of the reservation's exterior boundary, with the expressly stated intent of shooting a few deer and elk...

... State lawmakers are considering a bill to reaffirm that trapping is a form of hunting protected by the state Constitution.  In 2004 voters amended the constitution to guarantee Montanans the right to harvest fish or wild game...

Nature Conservancy Completes Purchase of 117,000 Acres in Blackfoot River Valley January 22, 2015 Montana, The Nature Conservancy
... The Clearwater-Blackfoot lands are part of the Conservancy’s $134 million, two-state Great Western Checkerboards Project, which will preserve recreational access and ecological integrity across more than 257 square miles in Montana and the Cascade Mountains of Washington ... “This project helps protect critical habitat for bull trout, lynx, elk and mule deer in Montana’s spectacular 10 million acre Crown of the Continent,” said Richard Jeo, director of The Nature Conservancy of Montana...

Boone and Crockett Club warns against rise of captive deer farms January 16, 2015 Montana, The Missoulian
... “The Boone and Crockett Club maintains that selective breeding and artificially growing deer and elk with unnaturally large antlers to be sold and then shot in a put-and-take situation is not representative of traditional hunting, and these practices should be discouraged,” the paper states. “The captive-cervid industry is ignoring the fact that society rightfully expects hunting to be conducted ethically... Read the position paper from Boone and Crockett

Annual mule deer survey for district 270 completed January 10, 2015 Montana, Ravalli Republic
... This year, she counted a total of 886 deer, which was down a bit from last year’s 938... In the early 1990s, biologists counted as many as 2,500 mule deer in HD 270. More recently, mule deer numbers in the hunting district peaked at 1,757 in 2009. Numbers have been dropping ever since, with a low point of about 700 in 2012...

Why do elk move from fall to winter ground? January 8, 2015 Montana, Great Falls Tribune
... They are big animals with lots of body mass that produces lots of heat... thick fur coat can take a lot of winter...  it takes deep or crusted snow, or some combination, and a prolonged period of temperatures below freezing to force elk to migrate...

Wardens investigating cases of poaching near Butte January 8, 2015 Montana, KBZK Bozeman News
... morning of Saturday, Jan. 3, off Oro Fino Gulch Road. Warden Regan Dean discovered the fresh remnants of an elk kill.... call (800) TIP-Mont 

Roundup deer hunt popular with archers January 2, 2015 Montana, The Missoulian
... Sixty tags offered to archery hunters to thin the number of mule deer congregating in and around Roundup sold out within four hours on the first day they were offered ... Taylor noted that it is odd to be holding a special hunt to reduce the number of mule deer in Roundup at the same time that the animals’ populations are struggling in other areas of Eastern Montana... 

Wolf, coyote hunt slated; organizers cite declining deer, elk numbers December 29, 2014 Montana, Montana Standard
... One of the organizers of the first Great Montana Coyote and Wolf Hunt in Northwest Montana says the event – scheduled for Jan. 16-18 – took shape after local hunters noted a lack of big game in the mountains this hunting season.  “Deer, elk and moose numbers are going downhill ...

... "When we started with radio collars (tracked by aircraft), it could sometimes take one or two weeks between flights,” he said. “Now with GPS or satellite collars, we can download a year or two worth of data and get those movements in live time.” ...   there’s a lot of maternal knowledge passed to offspring ... It’s all a result of animals moving because they need food ...

Wild horses, urban deer, roaming bison and dead ideas December 28, 2014 Montana, Billings Gazette
... Wildlife fertility control works:  - Thirty wild horse populations in the U.S., Canada and Europe, wild horse sanctuaries throughout the U.S. and five different Native American reservations are using fertility control to manage their horse populations... Urban deer populations in four different states have been managed with fertility control...The managers of an entire bison herd in California achieved zero population growth in one year using fertility control...

Deer killed and wasted in Trout Creek December 20, 2014 Montdana, Clark Fork Valley Press
... discovered last week near Highway 200... Anonymous calls with information pertinent to the incident can be directed to a tip-line at 1-800-TIP-MONT...

... 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... 

Montana data:  For 2014 an estimated 181,086 white-tailed Deer and 273,756 mule deer statewide. In 2013 an estimated 193,049 white-tailed and 218,883 mule deer. 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.  A total of 281,000 mule deer estimated [PDF] for 2010
     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. EHD is new to Montana and primarily affects whitetails.  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.  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]
      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, 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.  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.