Elk NetworkResearchers Monitor Shrinking Northwest Montana Elk Numbers

General | May 18, 2023

Northwest Montana is known for its fine fishing and beautiful, thick forests. What it’s lacking is elk. Population numbers continue to drop and have done so for 20 years. Researchers want to find out why.

“Our goal is to figure out what is influencing the elk populations there,” Dr. Kelly Proffitt, FWP senior research scientist, told the Coeur d’Alene Press. “The idea is to better understand elk population dynamics by studying top-down influences like predation and bottom-up influences like habitat,” Proffitt said.

This past winter, researchers captured and placed BPS collars on 62 elk in Hunting District 121, an area that covers both sides of the Clark Fork River from the Idaho-Montana border just west of Heron south to Thompson Falls. They also captured and collared three mountain lions, and will monitor all the animals to determine movement, habitat use, predation and other factors with a goal of determining and implementing better forest and wildlife management practices.

The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation supplied funding to support the project.

(Photo credit: Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks)