Montana Deer:  An estimated population of 584,000 deer in 2017, up from 460,000 deer in 2015, somewhat higher than the estimated 455,000 in 2014.   The harsh winter in 2016-17 reduced populations somewhat in the northwest.  Whitetails were increasing in 2016 with some increase in the east for mule deer.   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

Special deer hunt in Montana sells out in minutes December 11, 2017 Montana, Great Falls Tribune
... a special season designed to get more information on the distribution and prevalence of chronic wasting disease in southcentral Montana, ...

Studying moose population dynamics a challenging endeavor December 10, 2017 Montana, The Missoulian
...  An arterial worm called Elaeophora schneideri is a suspect [for population decline]. The worm is carried by mule deer and passed on through horseflies. ... Because moose don’t live in herds or migrate annually to winter or summering grounds, their populations are hard to estimate. DeCesare said the last estimate was made in 2006 ... 

Expansion of youth deer season considered December 11, 2017 Montana, Montana Standard
... the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission, while noting some reservations, advanced a proposal to add days to the youth deer season and expand the age to all eligible hunters under the age of 18... [comment until January 24, 2018]

Headless buck left at Saco dump December 8, 2017 Montana, Helena Independent Record
... The dump is located about two miles south of Saco off the Larb Creek Road...
Montana's first chronic wasting disease hunt approved December 7, 2017 Helena Independent Record
... the state’s first hunt to determine the spread of chronic wasting disease in a southcentral Montana county was approved on Thursday... 1,200 licenses issued on a first-come basis: 100 either-sex whitetail, 500 whitetail doe only; 100 either-sex mule deer, 500 mule deer doe only...

Chronic Wasting Disease found in deer north of Chester December 5, 2017 Montana, KTVQ Billings News
... shot by a hunter on Nov. 12 north of Chester near the Canadian border has tested positive ... the fifth incident of CWD discovered in Montana wild deer this fall... Until this year, CWD had not been found in Montana ..,

...  a white-tailed deer in east of Joliet and a mule deer buck southeast of Bridger, Robert Gibson of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said Friday.  The new suspect samples were collected from hunters during the weekend of Nov. 16-17..,

Details of first Montana CWD hunt revealed November 30, 2017 Montana, Helena Independent Record
... licenses for the CWD hunt would be issued for does and bucks, with the proportion mirroring the buck-to-doe ratio in the area’s mule deer population. The breakdown for the license sales will be 400 antlerless and 100 either-sex per period ..,

FWP scrambles to assess spread of deer-killing disease November 27, 2017 Montana, Helena Independent Record
... officials are quickly working to try and design a first-of-its-kind special hunt to determine how widely chronic wasting disease has spread among deer in south-central Montana... two mule deer bucks have been killed south of Bridger tested positive for CWD, even though they both appeared to be healthy animals..,

... “Don’t just throw them away in the woods somewhere. People need to put them into a landfill. It’s especially important for hunters who harvest an animal outside of the area.” ..,

Chronic wasting disease confirmed in Montana mule deer November 15, 2017 The Spokesman-Review 
... Lab tests have confirmed chronic wasting disease in a mule deer buck killed Oct. 22 by a hunter in Hunting District 510 south of Billings ... A hunt could be established after the general hunting season ends to specifically target deer in the infected area..,

Second deer turns up suspect for chronic wasting disease November 14, 2017 Montana, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
...  a mule deer buck killed by a hunter south of Belfry has been found to be suspect for chronic wasting disease... samples from both deer have been submitted to a lab at Colorado State University ..,

... The biggest buck in the mule deer herd known as the “'pit herd” because it is often seen around the Berkeley Pit was poached Saturday night ...  the antlers, which were confiscated along with the carcass, are being scored to determine what potential restitution can be sought ...

... tested positive for infection ... Further testing is pending ..,
     Suspected chronic wasting disease found in deer south of Billings November 8, 2017 Montana, KTVQ Billings News
... The animal was killed in an area with a mixture of private and public land 10 miles southeast of Bridger... sample collected from the animal is being sent to the lab at Colorado State University for further testing ... If the result is positive, it will mark the first time CWD has appeared in wild deer, elk or moose in Montana ..,

Commission gives initial OK to chronic wasting disease plan November 8, 2017 Montana, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
... . The plan will now be open for public comment for the next 30 days ... administration of special hunts focused on the area of detection... to gather enough lymph node samples from potentially affected animals to determine the disease’s prevalence..,
     Fish and Wildlife Commission to consider chronic wasting disease response plan November 4, 2017 Montana, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
... The plan includes hunts centered on the area where the disease is detected in order to gather lymph node samples and determine the overall prevalence of the condition... commission will likely consider a final version in February ..,

Montana wildlife officials say poached deer likely suffered November 3, 2017 DeathRattleSports.com
...  illegally shot eight mule deer in eastern Montana with a type of ammunition used for small game that likely caused the animals to suffer ...

... Numbers of mule deer and elk taken by hunters on a portion of the Rocky Mountain Front are slightly above the long-term average ...

Hunters who braved brutal wind found some success October 25, 2017 Montana, Great Falls Tribune
... in 2016, 113,577 hunters — 95,410 resident, 18,168 non-resident — harvested an estimated 24,532 elk. And 158,896 resident and non-resident hunters took almost 118,000 mule and white-tailed deer...

Snowmobilers lose suit over wilderness recommendations October 26, 2017 Montana, The Spokesman-Review
... These areas provide important habitat for mountain goats, grizzly bears, Canada lynx, wolverines and a wide variety of other species, including the only remaining population of woodland caribou in the continental United States...

FWP adds checkpoint in Billings October 20, 2017  Montana, KTVQ Billings News
... Chronic Wasting Disease was found in elk on a game farm in Phillipsburg in 1999 but never in wild animals...

... Warden Todd Tryan thanked the public for phoning in to provide information. He is working with the TIP-MONT program to determine reward possibilities ...

... The Montana Wildlife Federation criticized that announcement because the restaurant chain will use farm-raised elk and venison. In a letter to Arby’s, executive director Dave Chadwick said elk and deer should remain wild animals. He said game farming went against the spirit of Montana’s hunting culture...

Deer, elk rebounding in many areas following tough 2011 October 17, 2017 Montana, Independent Record
... mule deer numbers are steady across southwest Montana... White-tailed deer numbers continue to look solid across the region... Mule deer from the Rocky Mountain Front to east and south of Great Falls are at management objective or even above in a few spots... in the prairies and foothills of south-central Montana than in the mountains. Overall numbers are nearly the same or slightly better ..,

Poachers blast deer with bird shot in McCone County October 16, 2017 Montana, Great Falls Tribune
... at least eight deer were found, including one fawn that still was alive but barely ... Deer were found scattered over two miles near Road 528 ... 1-800-TIP-MONT

Wildlife officials holding check points in south-central Montana for diseased deer. -October 16, 2017


  ZooMontana were honored to help get this plastic pumpkin off this wild, young deer's head October 8, 2017 Montana, ZooMontana Facebook
... The bucket was stuck for nearly a week, but the deer still had some spunk. Today, along with about 10 wonderful community residents, we were able to corral the deer into some trees, eventually moving the deer enough for it to knock the bucket off...

Possible solutions to deadly deer fence October 7, 2017 Montana, Ravalli Republic
... Sometimes there are more than one hanging on the fence.  School children are traumatized by the sight as the school bus goes by. Pregnant does and their fetuses die lingering deaths, nursing does leave orphan fawns to starve ...
   Private fence proves deadly for deer October 5, 2017 Montana, Ravalli Republic
...  a fawn impaled upon a fence. It was the third fawn he found so far this year on the same fence... the home off Wyant Lane. The fawn was on a spike halfway up the wrought-iron fence ...

... worried they might see a repeat of the disastrous winters of 1996 and 1997 when populations plummeted from record highs... Good amounts of moisture in the summer and fall provided for ample forage for the deer going into the winter months ..,

Big game season outlook is good for Bitterroots September 28, 2017 Montana, Montana Untamed
... in the West Fork, a “perfect storm” during the past few years, including multiple predators and difficult weather conditions, continue to keep that elk population below management objectives... down by about 500 elk in the 2014 and 2015 estimates by FWP...

... Urban deer are a common sight in many Missoula neighborhoods ... "The deer don't really bother us, because we have our back yard fenced off, and the fence is high enough they can't get in here,"  ...

... The annual count has been taking place for the last six years and aims to keep a manageable number of deer within the city limits... keep it at about 25 deer per square mile...

Police Chief Troy McGee says that surveying will begin on Wednesday, September 27th and will run through October 6th.


... Montana FWP put together an interactive map on their website titled “The Economics of Big Game Hunting in Montana,” which shows hunting districts throughout the state and their relative elk, deer and antelope expenditures... Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks accumulated $324 million in statewide hunter expenditures in 2016...

Montana deer populations trending up August 20, 2017 Independent Record
... Despite a brutal winter, deer populations came through largely unscathed, except for northwest Montana... Based on modeling using surveys and harvest, biologists estimate more than 363,000 mule deer roam the state, compared to an average of just under 283,000... whitetail population at nearly 221,000, compared to the 10-year average of about 204,000 ..,

State considering adding to wildlife management area at southern end of Paradise Valley August 9, 2017 Montana, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
... the land has been on the market, and the agency likes it because they know elk use it when they migrate out of Yellowstone National Park... Known as the northern herd, survey results from earlier this year showed that biologists counted 5,349 elk there. The population has been stable in the last few years ...
Eating roadkill in certain counties comes with caveat June 9, 2017 Montana, Helena Independent Record
... The only documented cases of CWD in Montana were in captive animals at a game farm in Philipsburg in 1999 ... CWD has been detected in free-ranging populations in 21 other states and two Canadian provinces — some very near the border with Montana...

... A dozen Darby High School students partnered with the Mule Deer Foundation, CB Ranch, and the US Forest Service to plant bitterbrush plants as part of a mule deer habitat restoration project...

Habitat Montana restored through teamwork May 10, 2017 Montana Standard
... Habitat Montana ... With over 600,000 acres of conservation easements and fee-title lands owned by the people of Montana, the program has helped conserve areas vital for the continued abundance of elk, deer and hundreds of other species that need a place to call home during the stressful winter months as well as year round...

Information needed on wasted mule deer buck May 8, 2017 Montana, Great Falls Tribune
...  a mule deer buck that was dumped and left to waste along Duck Creek Road.
On May 4 ... call the tip hotline at 1-800-TIP-MONT ...

Deer Lodge, Moose tours Deer Lodge, herded safely out of town April 29, 2017 Montana, Montana Standard
... A cow moose took a leisurely tour through Deer Lodge — nearly joining a track meet in session — before officials safely herded her out of town ...

...  game wardens found the deer had died from a gunshot wound...

Montanans must stand against mines near Yellowstone April 7, 2017 Montana, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
... These projects will also tear up good habitat for the elk, deer, bighorn sheep and moose. Elk will especially be in trouble on Crevice Mountain. Yellowstone’s biggest elk herd winters along the northern boundary of the park ...

Wildlife officials prepping for deer, elk disease (CWD) April 6, 2017 Montana, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
...  first meeting of the agency’s citizen panel on chronic wasting disease ... It has been detected in 24 states, including all those surrounding Montana except Idaho... it could mean that wildlife officials have to kill a lot of animals ...
     CWD meeting this week in Bozeman April 3, 2017 Montana, Billings Gazette
... CWD has not yet been found in Montana’s wild populations of deer, elk and moose. FWP started testing for CWD in 1998 ...

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 mid-2017 an estimated population of nearly 584,000 deer:  363,000 mule deer compared to an average of under 283,000 and nearly 221,000 whitetails compared to an average of about 204,000.  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.  In 2015 an estimated 264,546 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.  
     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) 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.  
     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.