(photo courtesy of mcleodmt.wordpress.com)
Elk numbers in north central Montana continue to rise, according to recent winter surveys by Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife biologists.
“The trend surveys completed so far show increasing numbers of elk in Region 4,” says Graham Taylor, FWP regional wildlife manager.
One reason so many animals were counted this year, Taylor says, was the counting conditions.
“In any year we are able to observe during the winter from 70 to 90 percent of the elk based on conditions such as ground cover, weather, flying time and airplane availability,” Taylor says. “This year we were in the upper end of that scale.”
For example, in the Highwood Mountains, elk hunting district 447, the local wildlife biologist observed 1,512 elk. FWP’s objective for that district is 750.
Towards the southern end of the Rocky Mountain Front, in hunting districts 421 and 423, 976 elk were counted, while the objective is 500.
The trend was similar from the Sweetgrass Hills along the Canadian border to the Little Belt Mountains near Great Falls and the Snowies south of Lewistown.
For hunters that means elk are available where accessible.
To that end, FWP Region 4 has a liberal harvest package for hunters. Through most of the region, hunters are able to take two elk: one animal on a general elk A license and a second antlerless elk on a B license, which is valid on private and state land.
“We need more elk harvested,” Taylor says.
(Report by Bruce Auchly – Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Region 4)