Thursday, March 7, 2013

Winter Count of Northern Yellowstone Elk Shows Continuation of Decline in Numbers

The Northern Yellowstone Cooperative Wildlife Working Group conducted its annual winter survey of the northern Yellowstone elk population on February 18th.

The survey, using three airplanes, was conducted by staff from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the National Park Service. Staff counted 3,915 elk, including 915 elk (23%) inside Yellowstone National Park and 3,000 elk (77%) elsewhere north of the park. Survey conditions were favorable across the region.

The count of 3,915 elk during the 2013 winter season was six percent lower than the 2012 winter count of 4,174. Looking back further, between the winters of 2007 and the end of winter 2011, elk numbers ranged from 4,635 to 7,109.

The working group will continue to monitor trends of the northern Yellowstone elk population and evaluate the relative contribution of various components of mortality, including predation, environmental factors, and hunting.

The working group was formed in 1974 to cooperatively preserve and protect the long-term integrity of the northern Yellowstone winter range for wildlife species by increasing our scientific knowledge of the species and their habitats, promoting prudent land management activities, and encouraging an interagency approach to answering questions and solving problems.

It is comprised of resource managers and biologists from the Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks, National Park Service (Yellowstone National Park), U.S. Forest Service (Gallatin National Forest), and U.S. Geological Survey-Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center in Bozeman.

Hiking in Glacier National Park

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