Montana Deer:  An estimated population of 570,000 deer in 2018, down from 584,000 deer in 2017, but up from 460,000 deer in 2015.  An estimated 445,000 in 2014.   The harsh winter in 2016-17 reduced populations somewhat in the northwest.  Another harsh winter in 2017-18.  Mule deer populations have been in a long decline since the 1970's.  2019 Big Game Forecast.    Historical Montana deer hunting data and news archive.
Montana Deer News

2020 SE MT big game hunting forecast September 8, 2020 Mongana, EIN News
... Southeast Montana experienced another summer with good rainfall, but conditions are rapidly drying out ... “Abundant precipitation last year made for good forage conditions and deer going into winter in good body condition,” ... “Mule deer are ... about 15 percent above last year and 33 percent above long-term average.” ... Whitetails counts were overall 11 percent above last year ..,

Mild winter leaves deer and elk in good shape August 30, 2020 Montana, Independent Record
... pretty darn stable with what we were seeing last year ... Butte Area:  a mild winter ... a few more elk and deer out on the landscape...Helena Area:  Deer populations were of concern following a couple of hard winters before the mild winter of 2019-2020... I wouldn’t expect the deer to rebound so much ... Townsend Area:  a pretty mild winter ..,

What you need to know about CWD [Chronic Wasting Disease] in Montana August 30, 2020 Montana, Independent Record
... CWD could result in large-scale population declines for infected herds.
Mule deer are believed to be the most susceptible species in Montana, but moose, elk and white-tailed deer can all be infected... Animals infected with CWD may appear completely healthy...

... gearing up to test 15,000 hunter-killed deer, elk or moose for chronic wasting disease ... Last year ... about 7,000 samples ... Montana has detected one case of CWD in a game farm in Eastern Montana ...

... The City is required to conduct a survey of the urban deer herd to determine how many animals should be removed... The program has drawn controversy since it's inception. Some residents don't think the program should exist, while others see it as a necessary way to manage the population...

... ground counts for mule deer were collected by area biologists to estimate over-winter survival... The post-season survey showed 61 fawns per 100 adults, which is above the average of 55 fawns per 100 adults... Winter mortality was likely minimal across the region ..,

Chronic wasting disease detected in Gallatin County deer May 19, 2020 Montana, Billings Gazette
... The deer was euthanized earlier this month in the Springhill area of north Bozeman after displaying several classic symptoms of the disease.  This case is the first detection of CWD in Gallatin County ...

Montana begins rewrite of elk management plan May 4, 2020 Helena Independent Record
... Montana last updated its elk management plan in 2005 ...  ... Individuals interested in serving on the committee must be willing to commit to two multi-day meetings during the summer of 2020... Populations in some parts of Montana grew well above objectives in recent years  ...

... Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking 10 to 12 individuals to serve as a statewide citizens group to collaboratively provide guidance for the new Elk Management Plan in Montana... Applications must be received no later than May 25 ...

... Following two years of hard winters, including last year’s record cold snap in February and March, biologists documented greater mortality for deer, elk and antelope... If temperatures continue to warm up through April, biologists expect most animals to survive...

FWP crews attach GPS collars to learn more about Montana wildlife March 8, 2020
Billings Gazette
... By following the 40 Carbon County mule deer that were collared, Stewart is hoping to find out where those animals go in the summer.  In 2017, Carbon County was the first place chronic wasting disease was detected in Montana whitetail and mule deer. Since then, sampling for the disease has expanded. Last hunting season 142 positive animals were identified ...

The Quiet Extinction February 19, 2020 Montana, Montana Kaimin
... Caribou herds once abundantly thrived from the western coast of Alaska to the eastern fronts of Canada, but that is no longer the case... Caribou migrate longer distances than any other mammal on Earth ... The final herd of the Lower 48, the South Selkirk herd, officially became extinct ... [at the end of 2019] ...

Missoula to count urban deer February 18, 2020 Montana, KPAX
... There is no program being launched. There's not a 'turkey shoot' that's happening up against some hillside,” von Lossberg said. We're trying to get a handle on population and a review of what is out there from a management strategy standpoint."...These are the first order responsible things to do ...

Smuggled elk poses a mystery for Montana wildlife officials February 15, 2020 Times Union
...A Montana game warden learns of an unusual elk shot along the Rocky Mountain Front... Genetic testing reveals that the young bull is of an exotic sub-species, and that it came from a herd more than 600 miles from where it was shot... it had been castrated ... tested negative for hoof disease ...

... Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks submitted 6,977 samples for chronic wasting disease testing during the 2019 season ... 142 tested positive for the fatal disease, including 86 white-tailed deer, 53 mule deer, two moose and one elk. These were Montana’s first detections in moose and wild elk..,

Chronic Wasting Disease found in Eastern Montana game farm elk February 6, 2020 Montana, Sidney Herald Leader
...The Montana Department of Livestock On Jan. 31, 2020, reported that a single game farm elk in eastern Montana has been confirmed positive for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD). The disease has not been identified in domestic cervids in Montana since 1999...,
     Montana game farm quarantined after positive elk CWD test February 3, 2020 Kansas City Star
... A Montana game farm is under quarantine after an elk tested positive for chronic wasting disease ..,
 
... CWD turned up in northwestern deer around Libby and Troy. Tests identified that almost 50 deer were infected.  FWP biologists theorized the sudden geographical jump was the result of hunters unknowingly bringing diseased carcasses back from the eastern part of the state and dumping the remains after they finished butchering...

Second moose tests positive for CWD January 18, 2020 Montana, Daily Inter Lake
... A second moose has tested positive for chronic wasting disease in Northwest Montana.  A hunter harvested the bull moose during the last week of the general hunting season near Fawn Creek just southeast of Libby ...

... Thirteen percent of the white-tailed deer in the town of Libby could be infected with chronic wasting disease (CWD), the highest prevalence rate in the state... FWP is already trapping deer within city limits to reduce population numbers ... Now the agency hopes to get permission from the state wildlife commission to sell an unlimited number of white-tailed deer tags...

White-tailed deer in southwest Montana tests positive for CWD January 10,
Explore Big Sky
... A white-tailed deer harvested during the general hunting season by a hunter in the Ruby Valley in southwest Montana has tested positive for chronic wasting disease. The Ruby Valley deer was harvested on private land about a mile west of Sheridan ...

Helena suspends deer culling due to budget cuts January 7, 2020 Montana, Independent Record
... The city began culling deer in 2008 by trapping them in pens ... This is the first fall and winter the city has not culled since then... the city plans to survey the deer population this fall, which is required by FWP in order to cull ...

...  less than half a mile to the west of the existing Libby CWD Management Zone... CWD was first detected in white-tailed deer in the Libby area earlier this year, leading to the creation of the Libby CWD Management Zone. To date, there have been 30 positive detections in deer...

Wildlife crossing system on Highway 200 near Thompson Falls December 26, 2019 Montana, The Missoulian
...  MDT installed 8-foot tall wildlife fencing along a 2.7 mile section ... To prevent animals from crossing into the fenced-in highway corridor, MDT installed electric wildlife deterrent mats this fall...

Comments sought on proposed elk hunting rules December 25, 2019 Montana, Missoulian
... Statewide, Montana’s elk population is roughly 134,000, about 20,000 over objectives, which is why the Fish and Wildlife Commission agreed in 2015 to extend the regular hunting seasons in some districts... The comment deadline is Jan. 22.., [see the proposals for the 2020-21 available for comment]

16 more deer test positive for CWD, including first in HD 705 December 23, 2019 Montana, Billings Gazette
... The last big batch of test results from animals harvested during the general season and sampled for chronic wasting disease has turned up 16 new positives, mostly in areas where the disease is already known to exist... This year, more than 7,000 animals have been sampled statewide, and 131 have tested positive for CWD..,
     White-tailed deer in southwest Montana tests positive for CWD December 18, 2019 Montana, The Montana Standard
... The first detection of chronic wasting disease in southwest Montana showed up in a white-tailed deer harvested by a hunter in the Ruby Valley during the general hunting season..,

Benefiting ranchers December 16, 2019 Montana, Montana Standard
... Older hunters probably remember the days when we hunted whitetail deer in our national forests. This was great fun until FWP started selling almost unlimited tags for whitetail doe to appease the ranchers. Now whitetails are virtually nonexistent on public land ...

The scary science behind chronic wasting disease December 15, 2019 Montana, Billings Gazette
... The Alliance for Public Wildlife estimates that 7,000 to 15,000 CWD-infected animals are consumed annually ... although CWD has also been detected in moose in Norway, the CWD there apparently has a different source than North America... [Debbie McKenzie, an associate professor at the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta] ...

Chronic wasting disease sampling results continue to come in December 6, 2019 Montana, Montana FWP News
... Samples from 25 deer harvested around the state tested positive for chronic wasting disease last week. The majority of the new positive samples were from animals harvested within CWD Management Zones, where the disease is known to exist.Two of the positive samples were from areas where the disease had not been previously detected... brings the number of positive samples collected this year to 91, including one elk and one moose ..,

Did CWD affect hunting numbers in Montana this season? December 3, 2019 Montana, KTVQ Billings News
... A major decline in hunter and harvest numbers this season in Montana has wildlife experts on the hunt to figure out why... many are asking whether chronic wasting disease played a role...

...  Mike Thompson, FWP Region 2 Wildlife Manager. “The lower elk and whitetail harvest numbers at the Bonner station are telling us that’s one spot where we’ll want to take an extra close look.” ...

Three deer harvested in Region 7 suspect for CWD November 29, 2019 Montana, Ekalaka Eagle
... Samples from three deer harvested in southeast Montana have tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease. These are the first positive results in the southeastern corner of the state... 

Chronic Wasting Disease hits elk in Montana November 27, 2019 Explore Big Sky
... For the first time ever, Chronic Wasting Disease has been confirmed in a wild free-ranging elk in Montana. At the same time, Wyoming Game and Fish has announced that tissue samples tested for mule deer bucks near Lander show that 50 percent came up CWD positive ...

Deer harvested in Liberty County tests positive for Chronic Wasting Disease November 16, 2019 Montana, KRTV Great Falls News
... The Moffat Bridge area is in Liberty County south of Chester...  Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks says the deer was taken on private land the first week of November..,

FWP encourages hunters to have all meat tested for CWD November 15, 2019 Montana, NBC Montana
... So far, 30 deer and one moose have tested positive for the disease in northwest Montana this year...

... A hunter harvested the bull moose in late October near Pulpit Mountain ... CWD was first detected in white-tailed deer in the Libby area earlier this year, leading to the creation of the Libby CWD Management Zone. To date, there have been 30 positive detections in deer...

Carbon County deer tests positive for chronic wasting disease November 4, 2019 Montana, KTVQ Billings News
... A mule deer buck harvested during the archery season northeast of Joliet tested positive for Chronic Wasting Disease...

BLM, state, ranchers fight conifer encroachment November 3, 2019 Montana, Montana Standard
... Bureau of Land Management ...  has steadily pushed back on the line of Douglas fir marching down the mountainsides in southwest Montana... bad for mule deer habitat, elk habitat and moose... conifers are taking over land that once supported mountain mahogany, a shrubby, low-growing tree mule deer live on...

Biologist says upcoming elk season hard to predict in Bitterroot October 23, 2019 Mondtana, Ravalli Republic
... elk numbers were down from last year’s count, they were still above the objectives set in the state elk management plan. Mowry counted a total of 7,851 elk in the five districts that surround the Bitterroot Valley...

Reward offered for information on poached mule deer October 21, 2019 Montana, KTVQ Billings News
... found the carcass next to Old Hardin Road southeast of Lockwood...$1,000 for information ...

... Eighteen white-tailed deer have now tested positive since the count started this spring... Officials also hope to trap an additional 200 deer in Libby, where the disease has primarily been found...

Mule deer buck harvested near Glasgow suspected positive for CWD Montana, Billings Gazette
... The hunter had submitted the lymph nodes from the deer for testing. A follow-up test is being run to confirm the results...

... With 14,000 reported incidence last year, Montana ranks second to West Virginia in the annual number of vehicle collisions with deer, according to State Farm... Several studies indicate that wildlife crossings work ... in association with fencing that helps funnel wildlife towards the crossings, can reduce wildlife-vehicle collisions by 97-percent...

Are you ready for hunting season? October 13, 2019 Montana, Sidney Herald 
Leader
... Southeast Montana experienced above-average rainfall this summer, which produced abundant forage and cover ... should boost populations next year (pending what Mother Nature has in store this winter) ... Aerial surveys of deer populations in southeast Montana indicate that both mule deer and white-tailed deer remain above long-term average numbers...

Libby City Council tables CWD management plan October 11, 2019 Montana, The Western News
... Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks have been working with the city to manage symptomatic town deer.  FWP officials built several clover traps, essentially mesh cages, to catch deer. Once trapped, wildlife officials take the deer from the site and euthanize them to collect testing samples...

Cases of CWD white-tailed deer piling up in Libby October 5, 2019 Montana, The Western News
...If confirmed, the new result marks the 11th detection of CWD out of 165 samples collected and submitted from the Libby area so far this year.  Results are currently pending for 30 samples...

... Wildlife officials will now establish a new CWD management zone to include all of Yellowstone County and a portion of Big Horn County north of Interstate 90 and west of the Bighorn River...

Tenth Libby deer likely CWD positive September 23, 2019 Montana, MTPR.org
... another white-tailed deer is likely positive for Chronic Wasting Disease in Libby. If confirmed, this would be the tenth deer to test positive since the spring...

A deer struck by an arrow is running around Billings September 18, 2019 Montana, KRTV
... "It has an arrow stuck in the flesh on one shoulder," ..."It's a pretty nice buck and people have seen it in and around the neighborhoods underneath the Rims for quite a while."...

Seventh deer tests positive for CWD September 18, 2019 Montana, Bonner County Daily Bee
... a white-tailed deer in Lincoln County is suspected to be positive for chronic wasting disease ... he doe would mark the seventh detection of chronic wasting disease in the Libby area...

Forest officials aim to inform on prescribed burns September 17, 2019 Montana, Daily Inter Lake
... Officials sought approval to burn the area in order to reduce the severity of any future wildfires... A successful fire would also improve elk and mule deer habitat, prepare grounds for planting native trees, and more...

Montana Big Game Hunting Forecast September 12, 2019 FWP News
... Deer and elk populations experienced moderate winter mortality — especially in last year’s young — in the Bull, Pintler, Highland and north Beaverhead mountain ranges (HDs 319, 321, 334, 340, 341, 350 and 370). Adult elk and deer weren’t significantly impacted, but fawn and calf numbers are down from last year..,

Additional suspected CWD case reported in Libby area September 11, 2019 Montana, KPAX-TV
... State wildlife officials are reporting that two additional white-tailed deer in the Libby area are suspected to be positive of chronic wasting disease...

...   CWD’s spread takes off exponentially when prevalence hits about 20 percent. ... Wisconsin has been reluctant to reduce deer densities since, and now has herds with prevalence rates over 50 percent ... Wyoming has never reduced deer numbers in infected herds. Like Wisconsin, it has herds with prevalence rates up to 50 percent...

... a white-tailed deer that was road-killed near the Lincoln County landfill is suspected to be positive of chronic wasting disease...

... FWP hopes to sample 200 animals in town through trapping and the same number from hunting within a 10-mile radius around Libby. FWP sold 600 extra white-tailed deer tags for this fall in hopes of obtaining that goal... 

Chronic Wasting Disease, We're the Wolves Now August 28, 2019 Montana,
Flathead Beacon
.... One theory is that wolves may be a natural, biological control over the spread of CWD by targeting the sick and weak, thinning the herd of infected animals. Someday we may have an answer to that theory, but the presence of wolves in the country surrounding Libby wasn’t enough to prevent the disease from arriving in the first place...

BLM plan needs more conservation August 26, 2019 Montana, Billings Gazette
... Unless we act, the next generation will not experience central Montana’s landscape and wildlife as we have known it ... The Missouri Breaks contain world-class habitat for elk, mule deer, and bighorn sheep...

CWD Hunt Aims To Inform FWP Disease Management Strategies August 19, 2019 Montana, Montana Public Radio
... The hunt isn’t intended to eradicate CWD in the management zone, which encompasses the 10-mile radius around Libby, but it could help managers understand CWD’s prevalence. Five white-tails have tested positive so far...

... If confirmed, it would mark the sixth detection of CWD in Libby. The first detection occurred in late May and was the first time CWD had been detected in the wild west of the Continental Divide...

Doe licenses increased in Region 6 August 6, 2019 Montana, Helena Independent Record
... Citing an abundance of mule deer and white-tailed deer in northeastern Montana, antlerless quotas have been increased by more than 4,000 tags in many Region 6 hunting districts..,

... Montana wildlife officials are planning to offer 600 special licenses to hunt deer in an effort to test for chronic wasting disease and contain its spread... near Libby ...

Libby to cull urban deer, sets special hunt August 2, 2019 Montana, Missoulian
...While the state agency is finalizing details of the Special CWD hunt in the Libby area, it plans to offer 600 white-tailed deer antlerless B licenses in the management zone ... “CWD is the most serious threat to our big game herds and it demands aggressive action,” ...

Daines Sponsors Bill to Study Chronic Wasting Disease July 16, 2019 Montana, Flathead Beacon
... requires the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Interior secretaries to enter into an arrangement with the National Academies of Sciences to review current data and best management practices from federal and state agencies regarding Chronic Wasting Disease ...

... there are proven ways to safely ensure wildlife movements across highways ... The final report on the Summit includes a “Pathways Forward” section that outlines actions already in progress and recommendations for future actions that the group and others will pursue...

3 more CWD cases identified in Libby July 3, 2019 Montana, NBC Montana
... Biologists found the disease in Libby earlier this year, the first time it's been identified west of the continental divide in Montana... a press release from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks ..,

... the state with the worst odds for hitting a deer on the road, ... According to a 2016 study by Marcel Huijser at the Western Transportation Institute, 29 crossing structures between Evaro and Polson provided 95,274 successful wildlife crossings over five years, including almost 66,000 white-tailed deer...

Mule deer, whitetail numbers still above average in Region 7 June 3, 2019 Montana FWP - Montana.gov
... “We had abundant precipitation last spring and summer, which made for excellent forage conditions and deer going into winter in good body condition,” ... “Mule deer are looking good,” Foster said of the most recent surveys. “They are 5 percent below last year but still 27 percent above long-term average.” ... Buck-to-doe ratios dropped from last year’s 48 bucks per 100 does but remain at a strong 34 bucks per 100 does.  Whitetail populations aren’t quite as robust as mule deer, but numbers are still above average...,

FWP Region 6 mule deer, whitetail aerial survey findings released June 24, 2019 Montana, Sidney Herald Leader
... The 2019 post-hunting-season surveys showed the region-wide mule deer density at 56 percent above average, but 4 percent below the 2018 survey. The 2019 spring surveys showed region-wide densities at 41 percent above average and a slight increase of 4 percent from last year’s spring survey..,

... Mule deer populations are above average while whitetail numbers are mostly stable across Region 6 in northeastern Montana ... the region-wide mule deer density at 56 percent above average, but 4 percent below the 2018 survey..,

2nd deer suspected of testing positive for CWD in Libby June 15, 2019 Montana, KPAX-TV
... The sample was collected from a white-tailed buck that appeared symptomatic and was removed inside city limits near the site of the first detection...

... Chronic Wasting Disease was recently found in a white-tailed doe that was killed within the city limits of Libby. Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials collected the doe after residents reported seeing a very emaciated and sick-looking deer..,

... documented ... circumstantial evidence on birth defects on deer that could be associated with the pesticide... observations of deer with pronounced underbites and genital deformities ... Researchers found that animals with larger amounts of the pesticide in their spleen had pronounced underbites. Fawns also died...

... Bradley counted 146 elk in the North Hills-Evaro herd. That’s about half what was counted last year. The herd has a population objective of 300, and FWP Region 2 has spent years trying to get down to that goal through liberal hunting opportunities...

... The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation plans to purchase 442 acres of private land in the Dearborn Canyon area to turn over to the U.S. Forest Service...

A declining wildland deer herd May 9, 2019 Montana, Bigfork Eagle
... One of the major current conservation issues in Northwest Montana is our rapidly declining wildland deer herd. All hunters and biologists agree that our deer herd is down substantially from past years. But, there is substantial disagreement on the cause of that decline..,

As Pesticide Turns Up in More Places, Safety Concerns Mount April 30, 2019 Montana, Scientific American magazine
... Many deer had pronounced overbites, enlarged right heart ventricles, and damaged or missing thymus glands and scrota... some wild deer with concentrations of imidacloprid even higher than those in their experimental deer ...

Wildlife data must be protected April 28, 2019 Montana, The Montana Standard
... SB 127 ... would have made it illegal for people to sell specific wildlife location data... passed the Senate, but died in the House Fish, Wildlife and Parks committee...  did pass SB 349 ... makes it illegal to use wildlife location data from Montana FWP biologists to hunt or harass wildlife...

Wolves and elk: 'It's complicated' April 25, 2019 Montana, Daily Inter Lake
... “Long-term fire suppression and management for late seral and old growth forests in the region have resulted in dense trees crowding out the understory,” ...  “Elk are frequently moving to private lands to find the habitat they need ... about 850 wolves statewide..,

Addressing Chronic Wasting Disease in Montana April 24, 2019 Wyoming, Bitterroot Star
... CWD was first found in Montana in 2017...  In 2018, FWP detected 26 new cases of CWD among wild deer, including 21 cases along the northern border in every county from Liberty County east to the North Dakota border, and five cases within the CWD-positive area south of Billings..,

Meet Gracie: The Resident 'Bark Ranger' at Montana's Glacier National Park April 18, 2019 Mental Floss
... In the winter, Gracie also helps shepherd deer out of highly populated areas in an effort to keep predators—namely mountain lions—away from people. Gracie completed a 10-week training program in Florence, Montana, where she learned how to control her direction and speed...

... During the 2018 season, FWP collected a total of 1,922 samples from mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and moose. FWP detected 26 new cases of CWD among wild deer, including 21 cases along the northern border ..,

Subdivisions in north valley facing deer problems April 10, 2019 Montana, Bitterroot Star
... “The wildlife is not ours, FWP does not own the wildlife. The government does not own the wildlife. In Montana, the wildlife belongs to the public,” said Mowry. “It’s my job to see that we are not doing something biologically harmful to the animals.” ...

Effects of neonicotinoid insecticides on deer studied April 9, 2019 Montana, Bitterroot Star
... birth defects and health issues that she was observing in white-tailed deer in the Bitterroot Valley were possibly related to the use of insecticides and/or herbicides being sprayed on potato fields located upwind in Idaho and Washington. Now recent research ... some results that appear to bolster Hoy’s concerns...

... “It’s been a really tough winter. The elk that survived are generally in poor physical condition...  Some 5,800 elk were observed across the vast Northern Range survey area ... The 2019 figure is 23 percent lower than both the 7,579 elk observed a year ago and the 7,510 elk tallied in 2016 ..,

How Montana chose wild game over game farms April 5, 2019 Northern Wilds
... the initiative supporters worked to maintain their integrity by making sure their information was correct and backed up by science. And the science clearly shows that elk and deer in close confinement have a greater risk of disease than free-ranging animals...

... include a reduced price for wolf licenses, a donation program for collaring and lethal removal of wolves, and allowing reimbursement to successful wolf trappers... funded by ranchers and sportsmen groups targeting areas that have seen declines in deer and elk populations ...

Sportsmen groups sue over logging roadless areas near Helena March 20, 2019 Montana, Helena Independent Record
... groups say in their lawsuit that the Forest Service’s decision to log and burn parts of the roadless areas ... violates federal law, and that reductions in hiding cover for big game were not properly vetted and run counter to the forest plan...

Wolf Expansion Could Be Curtailed  March 18, 2018 Montana, dtnpf.com
... When legal wolf harvests began in Montana and Idaho in 2009, wildlife advocates and some scientists argued their numbers would plummet. Hunters and trappers have since killed almost 4,400 wolves in the two states ... About 1,500 more were killed by government wildlife agents and property owners following attacks on livestock and similar conflicts.  But wolves are such prolific breeders that after each hunting season, their numbers bounced back the next spring...

   Over the past decade, abnormalities have been documented in white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in west-central Montana. Hypotheses proposed to explain these anomalies included contact with endocrine disrupting pesticides, such as imidacloprid... Results demonstrate that imidacloprid has direct effects on white-tailed deer when administered at field–relevant doses...

FWP works to prevent chronic wasting disease March 5, 2019 Montana, NBC Montana
... In 2018 they tested nearly 2,000 deer, elk and moose and found about 26 tested positive for CWD. They found most of the diseased game along the Hi-Line near the Canadian border ...

... HB 161, brought by Rep. Brad Tschida, R-Missoula, proposed to prohibit the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks from weighing public comment in its decision-making processes... The bill failed to make it out of committee on a split vote...

Scientist claims chronic wasting disease is caused by bacteria February 25, 2019 Montana, Helena Independent Record
... “He’s been talking about it for 20 to 30 years,” said Byron Caughey, who has researched CWD at the National Institute of Health’s Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton. “He really hasn’t built much momentum for it. He’s been stirring this pot forever.” ...

There's a crisis of another kind on our border February 14, 2019 Montana, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
... Chronic wasting disease was introduced to north central Montana in part from deer that escaped Canadian game farms. Fatal to deer, but not found to be transmissible to humans, CWD was first reported in Montana in 2017..,

Wolf payout bill draws ethics challenge January 31, 2019 Montana, Fairfield Sun Times
... Montana has between 600 and 900 wolves ... The state wolf management plan allows for very liberal hunting and trapping mostly without quotas as long as the population stays above a minimum 150 wolves...

Game managers propose deer hunting changes January 24, 2019 Montana, Daily Inter Lake
... proposing eliminating either-sex white-tailed deer licenses for two districts in Northwest Montana. ... Our area biologists reviewed several factors, including decreased fawn recruitment in deer populations after the last two winters ...

Montana data:   An estimated  population of 570,000 in 2018, 334,965 mule deer and 235,000 whitetail, up from the mid-2017 estimated population of nearly 584,000 deer:  386,075 mule deer and nearly 221,000 whitetails.   In 2020 a stable to modestly increasing population as a result of the mild 2019-20 winter..  2019 surveys.  The harsh 2016-17 winter was offset by good previous summer and fall providing ample forage for deer going into winter so deer populations were nearly stable in the northwest.  Another harsh winter in 2017-18 and in 2018-19.  In 2015 an estimated 297,231 mule deer and  about 195,000 whitetails for a total of about 460,000.  In 2017 populations trended higher despite a harsh winter, except in the northwest where deer faced the most severe weather.  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

Montana Mule Deer Population

 
  Year
Data ....
Source
 2005318,187
 2006347,892
 2007346,683
 2008336,689
 2009302876
 2010249,235
 2011251,252
 2012213,642
 2013234,272
 2014265,583
 2015299,303
 2016368,049 
 2017388,092
 2018351,653 
 2019 323,657
     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 263,632 mule deer for a total of about 445,000.  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) was detected in Montana's wild deer for the first time in 2017,  detected in captive elk at a game farm near Philipsburg in 1999.   In 2018, 26 positives in wild deer from almost 1,922 tested.  During the 2019 hunting season, there were 142 animals testing positive out of about 6,977 tested, including the first positives in moose and wild elk.  In early 2020, CWD was detected in an elk farm, the first reported among domestic cervids since 1999.  Montana voted to ban game farms in 2000.
      History  The Lewis and Clark expedition reported large numbers of deer and elk while passing through eastern Montana.  
     Moose  Lewis and Clark reported seeing only two moose when they passed through in 1805-06.  Populations, which have been hunted since 1872, have recently been on the decline.   FWP is trying to determine why.  Hunting, predation, parasites, and climate change are suspected factors.  About 20,000 hunters applied for 350 moose tags in 2018, among those about a 75 hunter success rate.
     Elk,  estimated at 134,000 in 2019, about 20,000 over objective  About 140,000 in 2014.  Above target populations in many districts in 2016.
     Wolves, an estimated 600 to 900 in 2019, 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.