Northeast Montana elk forecast
What’s Montana’s northeast elk forecast for 2018? Well, if you plan to hunt the Bears Paw Mountains, you’ll see plenty of elk as numbers are substantially over the 250 elk objective. If you are focused on the Missouri River Breaks, elk populations have dropped within that region, but are also still over the 1,700 to 2,000 elk objective. Why? Most likely due to strong calf survival despite the bad weather.
“Both management units are doing well,” Scott Hemmer, a Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) biologist, told the Ravalli Republic. “Fortunately, elk appear to have weathered the severe weather conditions we had this last summer and winter.”
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) completed the 2018 elk population surveys earlier this year. The Breaks are surveyed biennially and the Bears Paw survey is completed annually. Here’s the breakdown for each area:
The Missouri River Breaks
According to the Ravalli Republic, the 2018 survey found 33% fewer elk than the 2016 survey, which is 20% below the long-term average. However, with a total of 2,294 elk counted, elk numbers were still over the management objective of 1,700 to 2,000 elk for this area. As a result, MFWP added more opportunities in 2016 and will continue these changes for the 2018-2019 season. These include the addition of 300 antlerless elk permits and 500 antlerless elk B “shoulder season” licenses. New for 2018: the shoulder season will now run Dec. 15, 2018 through Jan. 15, 2019.
The Bears Paw Mountains
The 2018 survey found 647 elk – an increase of 24% since the 2017 survey and 67% above the long-term average, the Ravalli Republic reports. With the current management objective set at 250 elk, MFWP has changed hunting opportunities for Bears Paw that is similar to the Breaks. Like the Breaks, the changes were implemented in 2016 and will continue for the 2018-2019 season. These include an additional 100 antlerless elk permits and 100 antlerless elk B “shoulder season” licenses that are valid from Dec. 15, 2018 to Jan. 15, 2019.
With hunting season just around the corner, securing access to these areas is the first step toward potential elk success this fall. Good luck!