Western Montana hunters enjoy good elk, whitetail season contrary to their fairytales

It gets old listening to hunters cry that there are no Elk or deer left because of Wolves. They are as bad as ranchers.

Wake Up  Government, it is the Hunters that are decimating the Wildlife not our Native Predators!

Despite uncooperative weather in the final days, the 2017 big game season closed with the highest tallies in four years in Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 2.

Despite uncooperative weather in the final days, the 2017 big game season closed with the highest tallies in four years in Fish, Wildlife & Parks Region 2.

Montana’s five-week big game hunting season ended Sunday with unseasonably warm winds and patchy snow for tracking. Nevertheless, those who went out in west-central Montana did better than average.

Most of the elk came through the Darby station, where 159 elk amounted to a 14 percent increase over last year. The Bonner station recorded its best success since 2011 with 95 elk. That was also 64 percent better than the 2016 season. Anaconda hunters brought in 46 elk, 59 percent more than last year.

Rebecca Mowry, an FWP wildlife biologist in the Bitterroot Valley, said the numbers here were “pretty average.”

“We had such a strong opening weekend, and then it kind of backed off,” Mowry said. “We need a lot of snow and cold weather to keep the elk moving around, and that didn’t happen.”

Hunters told her they saw elk they couldn’t shoot on private property; a lot of people drove around but didn’t get out of their vehicles; and other hunters reported they shot and missed.

“But there are people who brought out elk they took on public lands,” Mowry said. “For the most part, the harder you hunt the more success you’ll have.”

Deer hunters brought 607 whitetails through check stations at Bonner, Darby and Anaconda. That was 3 percent higher than last year and the highest whitetail count since 2008, according to FWP spokeswoman Vivaca Crowser. All but 100 of those came through the Bonner station.

“We’ve seen a steady climb in whitetail harvest since 2014, which correlates with our sense of a growing population,” said Mike Thompson, FWP Region 2 wildlife manager. “This information is a good check on our thoughts of restoring some antlerless harvest opportunities for the 2018 hunting season.”

Mowry said new regulations in the Bitteroot that only allowed youth hunters to take whitetail does  probably led to fewer successes coming through the game check station in Darby. Only 68 were checked, a steady decrease from 110 taken in 2014.

Mule deer harvest in Region 2 came in 35 percent below last year, with just 77 muleys through all three stations. That’s also the lowest recorded in the past four years. FWP imposed special permit requirements in order to boost mule deer numbers throughout the region.

Overall hunter numbers were down about 8 percent compared to last year. Nevertheless, the 11,115 hunters interviewed during the five weekends of check-station operation tagged 999 animals, which was up 6 percent in 2017 and the best Region 2 success rate in the past four years. FWP game wardens also recorded nine black bears, one moose, three bighorn sheep and two wolves through the Region 2 stations.

None of the wolves passed through the Darby station.

Across the Rocky Mountains, FWP Region 4’s solo check station at Augusta saw normal elk numbers and variable deer success.

“The total elk harvest was 5 percent below the 10-year average,” said Brent Lonner, FWP wildlife biologist. “Similar to other years, the elk harvest this year peaked during the second and third week of the season when snow and cold arrived.”

But mule deer numbers were about 15 percent below the 10-year average. Whitetails were 14 percent above average. All told, the Augusta station recorded 315 elk, 253 mule deer and 341 whitetails.

In northwest Montana’s FWP Region 1, hunter success overall was up to 8.6 percent for 2017, compared to 10.1 percent last year. The six game check stations in the region logged 16,269 hunters.

“The percentage of hunters with white-tailed deer varied greatly depending on where you were hunting,” said Neil Anderson, FWP Region 1 Wildlife Manager. “Overall, hunters seemed to be enjoying themselves despite some challenging conditions. Most of the hunters I spoke to, including those who did not harvest an animal, stated they were having a good and enjoyable season.”

Overall, Region 1 hunters took 1,275 whitetails, 78 elk and 51 mule deer.

 That’s the lowest number of mule deer since records were first kept in 1985, Anderson said.

“We don’t know why the numbers were so low,” Anderson said. “Fortunately, we are initiating a mule deer study in the Fisher River and Whitefish Range in Region 1 this winter. We hope to get valuable information on habitat use, nutrition, and some data on mortality rates.”

Source: Western Montana hunters enjoy good elk, whitetail season | Local News | ravallirepublic.com http://protectthewolves.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Yellowstone_Wolves-750×509-750×509-1.jpg #EndangeredSpeciesList #OpposeWelfareRanchingNotWolves #RestoreWolvesToESL #WolvesInTheNews #WolvesInYellowstone

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