MTPR

elk

While watching an evening newscast about Montana wildfires, I saw some TV footage of deer and elk fleeing burning areas and listened to speculation by the newscasters of how many animals might be killed during the fires. I was reminded of watching the movie Bambi as a child, and fearing for Bambi’s life as he fled that fictional wildfire many decades ago.

So how devastating are wildfires to deer and elk? Can most of them outrun or outflank a rapidly spreading fire? And what about the survivors when they return to a burned forest? Isn’t their habitat destroyed?

A major study released Wednesday now says elk – not bison - are the primary source of new brucellosis infections in Greater Yellowstone Area cattle.
Flickr User Ian Sane CC-BY-2.0

A major study released Wednesday now says elk – not bison - are the primary source of new brucellosis infections in Greater Yellowstone Area cattle.

That’s a significant change in thinking from 20 years ago when the scientific community blamed bison for most of the area’s brucellosis transmission cases. 

Threshold Episode 06: Territory Folks Should All Be Pals

Mar 9, 2017
Part of the American Prairie Reserve near Malta, Montana.
Amy Martin

Visit the American Prairie Reserve, a conservation project in the heart of Montana that could eventually be home to 10,000 bison. The vision is to stitch together 3.5 million acres of public and private lands to form the largest wildlife park in the lower 48. But some nearby ranchers feel the push to build the APR is pushing them off their land, and they're mounting a resistance. We also try to solve the Great Elk Mystery: why are elk that have been exposed to brucellosis allowed to roam free in Montana, while bison are not?

Northern Yellowstone Elk Numbers Stabilizing

Jan 24, 2017
Elk in Yellowstone National Park
Jim Peaco/Yellowstone National Park (PD)

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — State and federal biologists say elk numbers in the northern part of Yellowstone National Park have stabilized after a long-term decline.

Wildlife Sign: Clues In The Storybook Of Nature

Nov 14, 2016
Elk in Yellowstone National Park
Jim Peaco/Yellowstone National Park (PD)

A couple weekends ago, some friends and I got up early to drive into the Flint Creek Range near Anaconda. We planned to hike through an area that we’d been told was home to some 800 elk, 150 big horn sheep, 30 mountain goats, black bear, and moose. We walked up the trail with great anticipation for a day of spectacular wildlife viewing. The sky was slate gray, and it wasn’t long before we encountered our first snowflakes and felt our hands getting numb. 

Yellowstone National Park: Is It Really Wild?

Nov 10, 2016
© Michael Nichols/National Geographic Yellowstone National Park. Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River from Artist Point.

The May 2016 issue of National Geographic magazine is devoted entirely to America's first national park: Yellowstone. It's more than just a park. It's a place where, 140 years ago, we began to negotiate a peace treaty with the wild.  David Quammen tells the story of the park in a four-part essay. He is the only author to write the entire narrative for an entire issue of National Geographic Magazine.

Yellowstone National Park: America’s Wild Idea. These stories and pictures of Yellowstone National Park's animals will surprise you.

Wildlife researchers found elk benefited from a wider variety of summer range vegetation in burned areas.
(PD)

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Kelly Proffitt says a study has found that wildfires may be good for elk habitat.

Fourteen years after a fire burned in the East Fork of the Bitterroot River drainage, a 2014 study found elk in that area had had better body fat, more pregnancies and higher calf survival going into the winter months than elk that spent their summers along the West Fork of the Bitterroot.

Wildlife researchers found elk benefited from a wider variety of summer range vegetation in the burned areas.

A major study released Wednesday now says elk – not bison - are the primary source of new brucellosis infections in Greater Yellowstone Area cattle.
Flickr User Ian Sane CC-BY-2.0

Montana Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Gary Wolfe says wildlife should not be managed like livestock. That’s why he joined the rest of the commission this week in rejecting a proposal to haze diseased elk away from healthy herds.

Montana Proposes Elk Hazing To Check Brucellosis Spread

Aug 10, 2016
Montana Proposes Elk Hazing To Check Brucellosis Spread
PD

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana wildlife officials are proposing to keep elk that have been exposed to disease from mingling with unexposed elk across a wide area north and west of Yellowstone National Park, though they acknowledge that plan has a high possibility of failure.

Bull elk
(PD)

Bison usually get the bulk of the blame for spreading a livestock disease around the Yellowstone ecosystem. A new study turns that assumption on its ear. It says elk are spreading the disease at an increased rate.

Panel Rejects Move To Triple Wolf Harvest Near Yellowstone

May 12, 2016
The new counting model uses hunter sightings to help map areas occupied by wolves
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (CC-BY-2)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A proposal to triple the number of wolves that hunters and trappers can kill just outside Yellowstone National Park was rejected Thursday by Montana wildlife commissioners.

Wildlife managers had recommended increasing the 2016 wolf quota for a hunting district near Gardiner from two animals to six. Agency officials had cited complaints from hunters and outfitters that the predators were eating too many elk.

Montana Proposes To Triple Wolf Harvest Near Yellowstone

May 10, 2016
Wolf on the northern range of Yellowstone National Park.
Jim Peaco (PD)

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana officials want to triple the number of gray wolves hunters and trappers can kill in an area bordering Yellowstone National Park, citing complaints the predators are eating too many elk wanted by hunters and outfitters.

Bull elk
(PD)

Wildlife managers from 18 states with wild elk herds just wrapped up a two-day meeting in Missoula at the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) has determined that the animal seen chasing elk on Mount Jumbo last week was a domestic dog.

FWP: Feeding Wildlife Is Illegal And Dangerous

Jan 28, 2016
White-tailed deer.
(PD)

State and tribal Wildlife managers are reminding Montanans that the supplemental feeding of game animals is illegal on private and state land on the Flathead Reservation, as well as off the reservation.

Public Domain
Federal Highway Administration / Federal Highway Administration

A freight train plowed into a herd of elk just outside of East Helena late Wednesday night, killing at least 23 animals.


   Montana Rail Link called state game wardens to the scene early Thursday morning, where as many as 30 elk lay dead. The wardens said they were told the east-bound train was believed to be traveling at 60 mph when it collided with the animals near Spokane Creek Road. 

FWP Considers Other Ways To Recover Elk Herd Near Gardiner

Dec 11, 2015
Bull elk
(PD)

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — State wildlife commissioners have agreed to consider ideas other than hunting restrictions to try to recover a dwindling elk herd near Gardiner.

Montana Proposes Elk Hazing To Check Brucellosis Spread
PD

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is seeking public comment on proposed guidelines to establish additional elk hunting seasons, called "shoulder seasons". Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ Quentin Kujala says they’d be used as a tool to reduce elk populations.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is updating the bison range’s comprehensive conservation plan and accompanying environmental impact statement.
(PD)

A panel of prominent scientists are meeting in Bozeman to talk about controlling brucellosis in the Greater Yellowstone area, It’s the start of a year-long process to evaluate options for trying to control the disease.

Bighorn sheep
(PD)

Hunters have less than a week to throw their name in the hat to win the chance for a dream hunt. Corin Cates-Carney reports on Montana’s SuperTag lottery deadline.

Mountain Lion in the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge
USFWS Mountain-Prairie (CC-BY-2.0)

Anyone who’s ever hunted mountain lions will tell you that finding just one cougar in the wild is hard. Imagine trying to count all the mountain lions in Montana….that’s a lot harder.

The North Valley Food bank has served road kill since the 1980s.
Corin Cates-Carney

When the North Valley Food Bank in Whitefish opened its redesigned building in 2013, it became unique among Montana food banks. While other food banks around the state have programs for hunters to bring donations of wild game, North Valley Food Bank is alone in butchering road kill on site.

Hunting Groups Take Aim At 'Crowd Shooting'

Apr 6, 2015
A major study released Wednesday now says elk – not bison - are the primary source of new brucellosis infections in Greater Yellowstone Area cattle.
Flickr User Ian Sane CC-BY-2.0

Last week, a citizen’s advisory group to Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks started fundraising to produce an education campaign in direct response to controversial "crowd-shooting" incidents last November.

Wolves A Source Of Wonder, Controversy 20 Years After Reintroduction

Jan 13, 2015
Jim Peaco (CC-BY-2.0)

Monday marked the 20th anniversary of the arrival of 8 wolves into Yellowstone National Park. That event marked the beginning of the recovery effort for the grey wolf, a species that had been absent from the Northern Rockies for more than 70 years.

Several of the former National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials in the recovery effort met Sunday and Monday to reflect on the effort and consider the future of the grey wolf.

The Top Stories Of 2014 On MTPR

Dec 29, 2014
Dan Boyce

With a new year just around the corner, it's time to look back at the year's big stories. Here are some of the most popular stories from 2014 on mtpr.org.

Ancient Human Remains Come From Montana Ancestor Of Most Native Americans

DNA evidence recovered from ancient human remains found in Montana is providing definitive answers to the origin of Native Americans.

Courtesy Montana Legislature

A state lawmaker says he wants to introduce legislation to address ongoing hunting violations in Montana. Republican state Representative Kelly Flynn lives near Townsend where a second so-called "crowd-shooting" incident took place last week.

There’s been another “crowd shooting” incident involving a herd of elk in Montana.

Broadwater County Undersheriff Wynn Meehan says that on Thanksgiving day hundreds of elk near Townsend were hazed by trucks for at least five miles before getting boxed-in and fired on by dozens of Montanans. 

Some of the elk eventually split-off from the main herd, but were immediately pursued into adjacent private land near Highway 12.

Meehan says the trouble resumed first thing Friday morning:

A “crowd-shooting” incident on the east side of Canyon Ferry Reservoir last weekend has opened a discussion about hunter ethics; specifically, when is it OK to shoot a game animal?

Justin Feddes says the shooting in the White's Gulch area outside Helena started at first light last Sunday morning.

"If I had to guess, I'd say probably around 30 elk were killed. Probably 18 - 20 bulls, the rest were probably cows. We had two wounded," said Feddes.

A major study released Wednesday now says elk – not bison - are the primary source of new brucellosis infections in Greater Yellowstone Area cattle.
Flickr User Ian Sane CC-BY-2.0

Shooting into a large elk herd may not be illegal, but is it ethical?

Experts say, "not really."

But that's just what happened last weekend in the White's Gulch area on the east side of Canyon Ferry Reservoir outside Helena.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks Game Warden Justin Feddes says hunters spotted a herd of about 500 elk at first light on Sunday. Feddes reports they started shooting, which scattered the rest of the herd onto a mix of private and public lands.

Biologists Track Bitterroot Elk Migration

Sep 23, 2014
A major study released Wednesday now says elk – not bison - are the primary source of new brucellosis infections in Greater Yellowstone Area cattle.
Flickr User Ian Sane CC-BY-2.0

It’s big game season in Montana, and hunters aren’t the only ones tracking the state’s elk herds. Wildlife biologists are currently studying the animals’ migration patterns in the Bitterroot Valley. They’re trying to understand why elk are spending more time on the valley floor. In this story, University of Montana Graduate Student, Nate Hegyi, follows the scientists as they use a helicopter to net, collar and release elk for a study that should provide some answers.

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