Montana FWP has begun a moose study in three areas across the state, with one area focused near Libby. FWP is conducting the study in light of decreasing moose populations and declining hunter opportunity.
Last week, 12 cow moose were darted and captured in the East Cabinet study area south of Libby and fitted with radio collars. FWP contracted with Quicksilver, a helicopter-based team from Alaska, to capture the moose. Dr. Jennifer Ramsey, FWP Wildlife Veterinarian, was on hand to oversee the use of immobilization drugs. According to FWP Biologist Tanya Radant-Chilton who is stationed in Libby, biologists will look at disease load, other measures of animal health, reproductive rates, and calf survival for the 12 collared moose. Jesse Newby, a research technician, will collect much of the data during the study.
“This is the first year of a long term research effort to learn more about Montana moose ecology,” says Region One Wildlife Manager Jim Williams. “Another important aspect of the work is to refine our annual aerial moose survey techniques to better reflect moose population trends.” Williams added that the information on moose sightings collected from hunters at check stations will help guide this new research effort.
The East Cabinets consistently provide for harvest of roughly 15-25 moose annually. Recent statewide disease sampling indicates that arterial worm is present in moose in the East Cabinets area. Moose have been a priority for research for over a decade. Concerns have ranged from predation to the lack of logging and subsequent poor habitat.
Biologists have also captured 12 moose in each of two other study areas, the Big Hole and along the East Front of the Rockies.
(Report by John Fraley – Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks – Region 1)