Results from the spring 2018 big game surveys in northwest Montana are available.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 1 biologists annually conduct spring surveys to evaluate recruitment rates of elk, white-tailed deer, mule deer and bighorn sheep. FWP also conducts annual telephone surveys amongst hunters to gather harvest information. Together, these surveys provide biologists with a picture of big game recruitment and population trends over time. FWP uses this information to recommend hunting season structures (e.g., whether to have a restrictive antlered-buck-only season or allow some antlerless harvest on a general license) and the number of antlerless licenses or permits issued.
These recommendations are provided to the Fish and Wildlife Commission, which is responsible for establishing seasons and the number of licenses or permits issued. The Commission meets every other year to consider major changes to season structures. Region 1 wildlife biologists can adjust the number of antlerless licenses or permits within a range established by the Commission.
Helicopter maintenance and availability issues influenced the number and timing of this year’s spring surveys. Overall, the extended winter resulted in reduced survival of deer fawns and elk calves in some areas of Region 1, but populations remain relatively stable overall.
FWP Region 1 personnel compiled the spring 2018 big game surveys report and it is available to view online, alongside other reports, at fwp.mt.gov/regions/r1.