Deer, elk hunter numbers down across much of state

Fish, Wildlife & Parks

Blame the weather, or maybe the wildlife. Blame regulation changes or a lack of hunter interest. Whatever the reason, across Montana it appears hunter numbers were down at game check stations operated by Fish, Wildlife & Parks during this fall’s five-week rifle season. The season ended on Nov. 27.

The Augusta check station may have documented one of the most extreme drops. It reported the lowest number of hunters in 30 years with the number of game animals the second lowest in almost 40 years.

Wildlife biologist Brent Lonner has managed the check station in Augusta for the past 17 years. He said there are a number of factors related to hunter harvest every year such as big game distribution, access and hunter effort. That region of the state also saw extreme drought throughout the summer.

The drop in hunter participation could only slightly be attributed to fewer licenses sold, according to FWP’s Greg Lemon, with a drop of 1% for deer and elk resident sales.

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