montana elk migration routes

Demand often outpaces supply, so drawing this tag may require applicants to have a preference point. 6: 184-197. Montana has anchored many big game migrations by acquiring what were originally called game ranges, now known as WMAs. , often doubling success rates of Colorado or Montana. FWP biologists have been tracking wildlife migrations since the 1950s, when they followed elk and sheep by horseback. Both over-the-counter archery season either-sex tags and rifle season bull tags can be used to hunt many of the state’s game management units. For instance, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks wildlife biologists have tracked mule deer in northeastern Montana moving an average of 64 miles from winter range west of Glasgow to summer fawn-rearing sites in Saskatchewan. animals need to move seasonally to another region to avoid bad weather or find better feeding or breeding conditions,” says Joel Berger, a senior conservation scientist with the Wildlife Conservation Society and the John J. Craighead Chair in wildlife biology at the University of Montana (UM).

Elk are doing well there, with herd numbers over objective in much of the state. Grizzly bears make seasonal “food migrations” to find high-protein fare such as Army cutworm moths and whitebark pine cone seeds. But some make great migrations. Grizzly bears don’t migrate in herds like pronghorn or elk, but they do move as individuals or small family units throughout the year in search of fattening foods. The general elk tag is valid throughout much of the state during a six-week archery season and five-week rifle season. Everyone knows most bird species migrate. There are plenty of states to choose from that offer great elk hunting. Adult grizzly bear females unable to reach high-calorie foods in fall may not produce cubs during “It’s not one or the other; you have to have both,” says Ken McDonald, head of the FWP Wildlife Division. For much of the 20th century, they focused on protecting core habitats—such as wildlife management areas (WMAs), national wildlife refuges, and national parks.

the state of Montana. Biologists know little of their seasonal movements or migrations except that moose summer in high-elevation forests and then, in fall, move to staging areas at mid-elevation in or near clear-cuts or burned areas. Your workspace is your dashboard for accessing and managing your content, bookmarks, and groups, as well as viewing messages and seeing your recently viewed content. Hunters, ranchers, and others have long known that elk spend summers high in the mountains.

A phone call to the state fish and game agency will put you in touch with the biologist who is responsible for the management of the elk herd you’ll be hunting. Average/longest documented migration distance: 5/11 miles, Major migration concerns: Climate change that Average/longest documented migration distance: 12/51 miles, Major migration concerns: Vehicle collisions in valley winter range; climate change that reduces and isolates cool, wet habitats; predators in some areas. One approach is to manage landscapes In other words, with a little planning, western states can have their cake and eat it, too.

Data Basin depends on JavaScript to do it's job. Using telemetry in the 1960s, biologists began documenting more migration routes.

You need to do all of this well in advance of your hunt, and it’s just the first step in the elk hunt planning process.

Near Thompson Falls, scientists have tracked bighorn migrating from the high reaches of Marmot Peak south down Sundance Ridge then along cliff faces to winter range in the Mount Silcox WMA. Colorado sells either sex and cow-only archery tags over the counter. Here are the four best options for hunters interested in going on their first do-it-yourself elk hunt.

Some of the best local intel you can get comes from state wildlife biologists. Data Basin is a science-based mapping and analysis platform that supports learning, research, and sustainable environmental stewardship. Conservation groups, state agencies, and others are trying different ways to maintain connectivity and big game mobility. This story is featured in Montana Outdoors March-April 2013 issue. Conservationists didn’t understand the importance of connectivity until relatively Average/longest documented migration distance: 15/125 miles, Major migration concerns: Loss of winter range from residental development; predators in some areas, Elk are the most well-known big game migrators in Montana. Average/longest documented migration distance: 12/44 miles, Major migration concerns: Roads and fences from For that to happen, biologists, planners, and decisionmakers must know which routes wildlife use and what obstructs or disrupts that movement. FWP recently began a study of moose ecology, including migration, in the Big Hole Valley, in the Cabinet Mountains, and along the Rocky Mountain Front to learn more about the species’ movements and habitat requirements. 9:309. Ask any big game hunter who lives in the Rocky Mountains what is their favorite species to hunt and you’re likely to hear “elk” as the answer. Non-residents who want to hunt elk in Wyoming need to apply for a general elk tag, which is not guaranteed every season.There’s a cap on the number of general non-resident elk tags made available in Wyoming each year.

One FWP study followed radio-collared bighorns moving from winter range at the Beartooth Face near Red Lodge across the Beartooth Plateau to summer range at Wolverine Peak near Cooke City.

When cold and snow arrive, they move to lower-elevation foothills in search of exposed, windblown bunchgrass.

These general licenses allow hunters to pursue elk in many areas of the state, with the exception of some controlled draw areas.


The first question any prospective elk hunter needs to answer is where to go. Biologists tracked an annual spring migration from the Judith River WMA near Lewistown southwest across the Castle and Little Belt Mountains to summer grounds in the Gallatin Valley. Some Canadian herds, perhaps following ancient routes thousands of years old, hit Fort Peck Reservoir and cross its frozen surface, only to be stranded on the lake’s south shore in spring. The general elk tag is valid during archery (with a purchase of an archery stamp) and rifle seasons in multiple units throughout the state. You can search for roadless areas that elk use during hunting season and get a quality view of the terrain and cover where you’ll be hunting. The general elk tag is valid throughout much of the state during a six-week archery season and five-week, All across the West, elk can be found on vast expanses of Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management ground, as well as state managed wildlife areas. Once you’ve got a few spots you’re interested in, the next step is researching access. “The governors could see they were on a collision course, where the desire to develop energy was conflicting with wildlife, which is hugely important in the West,” says Steve Torbit, an expert on landscape conservation for the U.S. Private land elk hunting opportunities are limited in the West and often require hiring an outfitter or paying a significant trespass fee. “Maintaining connectivity doesn’t mean moving people off the landscape,” says Berger.

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