Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) reports that white-tailed deer harvest reported through the Anaconda, Bonner and Darby check stations reached a six-year high with the close of the 2016 general big game hunting season on Sunday.
“The climb in white-tailed deer harvest is welcome and follows an upward trend in deer populations on public land, as well as on private land,” says Mike Thompson, FWP Region 2 Wildlife Manager.
On the other hand, elk harvest was 36 percent behind last season, due primarily to a lack of snow and cold weather sufficient to prompt elk migrations. Snow depths at Snotel sites in the Warm Springs, Bitterroot and Blackfoot watersheds on the last weekend of the general hunting season were about one-third of the levels recorded in 2015.
“Whether we would have a good elk harvest or not after the first weekend was dependent on the weather, and we simply didn’t have the kind of snow and cold that would move elk,” Thompson says.
Hunter numbers were down from the total in 2015, but the percentage of hunters with game equaled the four-year high at the hunter check stations in west-central Montana.
Mule deer harvests in 2016 were similar to those checked in 2015 and 2014.
FWP also operated a check station at Fish Creek this year, for the fourth year in the past five years, and checked more hunters with slightly less game than last year. White-tailed deer harvest was down from last year, while mule deer harvest was up slightly.
In all, the region’s check stations reported season totals of 13,420 hunter trips, 229 elk, 147 mule deer, and 651 whitetails at the close of the season.
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