Antelope populations are slowly bouncing back in northeastern Montana following the harsh winter of 2010-11 that killed off an estimated 70 percent of the herds in that area.
The gains are incremental though, with fawn-to-doe ratios still lower than what biologists would like to see. Ideally, fawn-to-doe ratios of 80 fawns per 100 does are not uncommon and in good years fawn numbers can jump above 100 fawns per 100 does.
In northeastern Montana’s hunting districts 630, 650 and 670 near Glasgow – the hardest hit areas – pronghorn populations are still 45 to 67 percent below the 10-year average.
To make the animals’ lives a little easier, FWP recently partnered up with other volunteers to remove some fencing along Highway 2 that should help the animals migrate north and south. The animals won’t jump fences, instead preferring to crawl underneath. Similar projects have occurred throughout Montana and Wyoming has even built underpasses to lessen the danger to the animals at highways.
In other news, in south-central and central Montana and northern Wyoming, game officials are reporting dead deer that were likely killed by disease-carrying gnats. Epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, as well as bluetongue are possible causes of the deaths. The diseases are spread by biting gnats. Such occurrences are not unusual in wet years that favor gnat production. Dead animals are often found near waterways as they become extremely thirsty as the sicknesses take hold.
(Written by Brett French – Outdoors Editor for the Billings Gazette; Cover photo: flickr.com)