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Deer and Elk Numbers Down in Final Montana General Hunting Week

mule deer
Mule deer up the Skalkaho of the Sapphire Mountains. (KLYQ Photo)
The more restrictive hunting regulations and mild weather caused the harvest in the general hunting season in Montana to be lower than average. General rifle hunting season ended Sunday.

The Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks reported that the Darby check station in the Bitterroot had 24 percent lower harvest from last year. It was a full 40 percent below the five year average, according to a news release.

Mike Thompson, FWP Region 2 Wildlife Manager, said he expected the lower numbers with restrictive regulations, combined with increases in wildlife predation by mountain lions, bears and wolves.

“We really appreciate the sacrifices that hunters are making and we want to see that pay off with some restored hunting opportunities in the future,” Thompson said.

There were also fewer hunters. In region 2, which includes the Darby, Anaconda and Bonner check stations, there were 1,500 fewer hunters than last year, and it was down 30 percent from the 5-year average.

Hunter success rate was about 8 percent through the three check stations.

The Darby Check Station had 263 Elk. Last year there were 345. Mule Deer totaled 76, up from 74 in 2011. White-tailed deer were at 162, while last year there were 209.

The Anaconda Check Station had 56 Elk, compared to 90 last year. Mule Deer totals were 30, compared to 2011’s 34, and White-tailed deer 15 compared to 16 in 2011.

The Bonner Check Station had 78 Elk, compared to 107 last year. There were 58 mule deer, while in 2011 there were 65. And White-tailed Deer totaled 359, up from 329 last year.

These are not complete harvest numbers, but will give a good indication of the hunting season, officials said.

Wolf season continues through February 28. The statewide wolf totals were 81.

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