Montana Deer News

Prime elk habitat protected in Elkhorn Mountains August 30, 2015 Montana, The Montana Standard
... The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation this summer partnered with a conservation-minded family and the U.S. Forest Service to permanently protect 317 acres of prime elk habitat in the Elkhorn Mountains, south of Helena...

Land acquisition adds to Beartooth Wildlife Management Area August 20, 2015 Montana, Helena Independent Record
... the edge of the Beartooth Wildlife Management Area, a sprawling tract of game range home to nearly 1,700 elk... a sale with the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, other conservation organizations and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks...


... The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation worked with a conservation-minded family and a group of partners to permanently protect 2,810 acres of elk habitat in the Big Belt Mountains adjacent Beartooth Wildlife Management Area...

... the deer was becoming something of a celebrity  ... It is with a heavy heart that we must report the albino buck pictured in numerous Musselshell County Sheriff's Office posts was discovered deceased on the side of US Highway 12 this afternoon...

... “What we’re looking for is does (development) have an impact on the sustainability of a mule deer herd and then, most importantly, are there measures we can recommend to minimize or remove those impacts, if they are occurring,” ...

Ethical Hunters Shocked by Cecil Story August 10, 2015  Montana, The Ledger 
.. members often see themselves squeezed between other environmental groups hostile to hunting and the "slob hunters" they believe sully the sport... The Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act of 1937 taxes the sale of hunting gear. The proceeds, more than $12 billion so far, go to state wildlife agencies for conservation ...

Albino deer turning up in Musselshell County August 5, 2015 Montana, Independent Record
... Residents have been seeing quite a few white deer recently, especially between Roundup and Melstone... illegal to hunt albino deer since a rule in 1997 went into effect to preserve the uniqueness of the white animals...

... The moose poached near Kalispell was found alongside the Orchard Ridge Road near Foys Canyon, and left where it was shot and not harvested for meat...  tip hotline at 1-800-TIP-MONT, or use the TIP-MONT web form.

Elkhorn Mountains land acquisition opens 300 acres to public July 31, 2015 Montana, Billings Gazette
... More than 300 acres of prime elk habitat in Montana’s Elkhorn Mountains has been permanently protected and will now be accessible to the public... crucial elk winter range that is also home to mule and whitetail deer ...

... Free-roaming animals have spread CWD across most of Wyoming (and in many other states), and they may well have spread the disease into Montana ...

... At American Fork Ranch, they’ve found that what’s good for cattle production is also good for the wildlife - and by improving their pastures through cross fencing and adding an extensive system of waterlines, the work has also improved habitat for the native animals... antelope, whitetail deer, mule deer, elk, moose, black bear, mountain lion, bobcat, coyotes, ducks, geese, sandhill cranes, eastern brook trout ...

... The objective of the American Prairie Reserve (APR) is to recreate an untamed landscape in Montana so that 21st century Americans can similarly be exhilarated by the sight of thousands of wild bison, elk, deer, and antelope roaming free over vast areas of unfenced, native prairie. The APR is working to create the largest wildlife park of any kind in the lower 48 states—and it’s doing it all with private money...

Information sought in deer poaching near Hilger July 8, 2015 Montana, Billings Gazette
... a mule deer doe illegally shot and left near Hilger in central Montana. ... shot probably July 5 ... call 800-TIPMONT

Identifying priority chronic wasting disease surveillance areas for mule deer in Montana  RE Russell, JA Gude, NJ Anderson, JM Ramsey - The Journal of Wildlife …, 2015
... Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a fatal prion disease that affects a variety of ungulate species including mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus). As of 2014, no CWD cases had been reported in free-ranging ungulates in Montana. However, nearby cases in Canada, Wyoming, and the Dakotas indicated that the disease was encroaching on Montana's borders. Mule deer are native and common throughout Montana, and they represent a significant portion of the total hunter-harvested cervids in the state. The arrival of CWD in Montana may have significant ecosystem and socioeconomic impacts as well as potential consequences for wildlife management. We used 18,879 mule deer locations from 892 individual deer collected during 1975–2011 and modeled habitat selection for 7 herds in 5 of the 7 wildlife management regions in Montana. ... We estimated deer abundance from flyover counts for each region, and used the RSF predictions as weights to distribute the deer across the region. We then calculated the distance to the nearest known infected herds. We predicted areas of high risk of CWD infection in mule deer as areas with densities above the median density estimate and within the lowest quartile of distances to known infected herds. We identified these areas, the southeast corner of Montana and the north-central border near Alberta and Saskatchewan, as priority areas for CWD surveillance and management efforts. 

FWP aerial deer survey findings released June 17, 2015 Montana, Great Falls Tribune
... mostly unchanging populations of whitetail deer across the region... mule deer trend area numbers in the eastern half of the region (Glasgow area and east) are at or above the average. The western half of the region (Malta and Havre area), however, is at or below average...

... Toman says lions might indeed be responsible for the shortage of deer and elk in some areas…not because the lions have killed them, but rather because the herds shift to places with fewer predators...

...  replaced barbed wire fence with wildlife-friendly fencing, which is smooth at the bottom so elk, deer, and other animals can slip underneath... Wild Sky is working to recruit ranchers, like Fox, to implement measures on their ranch so wildlife in the area can pass through. In exchange, the ranchers receive extra payments raised from the sale of Wild Sky’s beef ...

A Good Samaritan in Montana was disheartened to learn that the state’s fish, wildlife and park officials had shot and blown up an orphaned baby moose he reported to them. The government officials killed the orphaned moose next to the carcasses of its mother and another stillborn calf after Josh Hohm, the man who found the baby animal, went home after reporting his finding. - June 4, 2015



Baby moose killed after man finds it in woods May 29, 2015 Montana, Bozeman Daily Chronicle
... the calf’s mother and twin, both found nearby, died during childbirth.  “Clearly I’m not going to leave the little guy there,” Hohm said... After reporting it to local authorities, Hohm thought the animal would be cared for, but a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks official later killed the calf....  “It’s just unbelievable to me [Hohn, his picture of the calf]

... Faced with a funding shortfall, FWP asked the legislature for $5.75 million through fee increases. State lawmakers approved the bill, but trimmed roughly $900,000 ... Whitetail deer populations in this corner of the state continue to trend upward and FWP is considering an increased availability of antlerless licenses in certain hunting districts...

Montana Hunting and Fishing News June, 2015, online magazine 

... "Elk and deer numbers have gone down in quite a few places in the western part of the state.  It sets up a different dynamic between the predator and the prey, " ... the new plan will be done by the start of 2016 ...

... Five Harborites have been stripped of hunting privileges in Montana for five years and ordered to pay $41,000 in fines and restitution for their role in illegally shooting trophy elk in a closed hunting district on the Rocky Mountain Front ...



Hunting groups press BLM to protect more backcountry May 13, 2015 Montana, Great Falls Tribune
...  the agency's final resource management plan for the Hi-Line District ... The groups want protections for more undeveloped land in northeastern Montana that support elk, pronghorn, mule deer ...backcountry that could be fragmented by energy production, new roads or power lines...

Animals put 2 newly constructed wildlife underpasses to use May 11, 2015 Montana, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
... Keeping animals and motorists safe is the aim of two wildlife underpasses that were incorporated into a $10.6 million reconstruction of a 7.2-mile stretch of Highway 200 just east of here, at a cost of $700,000... vehicles hit eight to 10 elk a year along a mile-and-a-half stretch ...

Dealing with deer: How to keep animals out of your garden May 8, 2015 Montana, Independent Record
...  The only surefire way to keep deer from gardens is fencing ... Borneman hired local builder and artist Joseph Beraz to construct a fence pleasing to the eye and able to keep deer from her garden. Now lined with lilacs, the fence blends into the yard ...

... The primary goal of the burn was to reduce hazardous fuel loads and return the area to its natural 35-year fire cycle... By reducing the encroachment of juniper and conifer stands onto the surrounding grasslands, the prescribed fire also improves wildlife habitat. The BLM partnered with the Montana Department of Natural Resources, the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation (RMEF) and the Mule Deer Foundation for the prescribed fire...

State's largest game farm closing following violations April 27, 2015 Montana, Great Falls Tribune
... several violations including wild elk, deer and antelope inside a fence with the captive herd, FWP officials said.  The case raised concerns about wild animals being shot by game farm hunters, the spread of disease and genetic mixing between wild and captive animals ...

Life around the Pit: There's more than you might expect April 26, 2015 Montana, The Montana Standard
... From fox and marmot to deer, a surprising variety of wildlife calls the Berkeley Pit perimeter home.  Tom Malloy, reclamation manager for Butte-Silver Bow, said he has seen as many as 16 to 20 deer at one time along the pit's west edge...

Mountain lion quotas stir controversy in Bitterroot April 20, 2015 Montana, Helena Independent Record
... A three-year study by FWP in the Bitterroot Valley has shown that mountain lions take the biggest bite out of the area’s elk calf population. In the last year of the research — 2014 — lions were blamed for almost 20 percent of the known elk calf depredations. For another 20 percent of the elk kills, the predator or the cause could not be determined...

Sportsmen Call on Montana Legislature to Restore Vital Funding April 2, 215 Montana, Polson Lake County Leader
... The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Montana Wild Sheep Foundation, Ducks Unlimited and other Montana hunters and anglers call on the Montana Legislature to restore the spending authority of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP)... “The Habitat Montana program is critical because it protects crucial habitat including elk, deer and sheep winter range and migration corridors. It also expands and improves wildlife management areas,”...

Bill allowing 10-year-olds to hunt passes Senate March 31, 2015 Montana, Independent Record
... Senate Bill 395, sponsored by Sen. Mark Blasdel, R-Kalispell, creates a $5 apprentice hunting certificate for hunters between 10 and 18-years old, for use with a designated mentor ...

FWP seeks info on Glasgow deer wasting March 26, 2015 Montana, Havre Daily News
... a mule deer and whitetail, were found in a ditch near the Willow Creek Block Management Area just south of Glasgow on Britzman road ... call 1-800-847-6668 ...

Block Management Areas not open to shed hunting March 20, 2015 Montana, Billings Gazette
... searching for antlers shed by elk, deer and moose on private land is not allowed through the state's Block Management Program...

Groups disagree on bill to allow 10-year-olds to hunt March 18, 2015 Montana, Helena Independent Record
... Sen. Mark Blasdel, R-Kalispell, brought before the Senate Fish and Game Committee Senate Bill 395, creating a $5 apprentice hunting certificate for those 10 and older, allowing them to hunt with a mentor...

Mule deer herds surge in Montana March 11, 2015 The Idaho Statesman
... Compared to population peaks between 2006 and 2008, back to back harsh winters cut mule deer numbers by as much as 55 percent by 2012... Across the huge region of southeastern Montana, FWP biologists tallied an average of 91 fawns per 100 does this winter... an average of 37 bucks per 100 does compared to a long-term average of 32 per 100...

... Man’s best friend may be the best deterrent.   A dog free to roam around a yard will keep even the most tempted deer away from a garden or home.  Because deer visit yards mostly at night, it is important that the dog have access to the yards at all hours...

Fatal deer and elk disease moves toward Yellowstone Park March 4, 2015 Montana, Bozeman Daily Chronicle 
...  Wyoming Wildlife Advocates released a map of Wyoming showing the rapid spread of chronic wasting disease over the past decade. It also illustrates that fewer than 40 miles separate Yellowstone National Park and Wyoming’s elk feed grounds from known infected areas...

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... 

Montana data:  For 2014 an estimated 181,086 white-tailed Deer and 273,756 mule deer statewide. 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.  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. 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.  Illegal to hunt white deer since 1997.
    A verified 554 wolves in 2014, down 12 percent from 2013.

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

Tweet in this timeline using #deer #Montana

Tweets about deer in Montana



Tweet on this timeline using @MontanaFWP

Tweets About Montana FWP


Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks News


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.