Blog Cabin

Entries in Montana FWP (61)


Test results show disease carried by gnats to blame for deer deaths

FWP photo(MISSOULA)- Test results are back, and biologists with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks have confirmed that epizootic hemmorrhagic disease is what's killed hundreds of deer in the Missoula area over the past month.

Nearly 400 dead dear have been found since the outbreak started in September. The first deaths were west of Missoula, but since then dead deer have been found in and around Missoula, and in the Bitterroot Valley as well. These first test results are for the deer that were found west of Missoula.

EHD is carried by biting gnats and doesn't pose a danger to humans. FWP says it remains to be seen if the cold weather has killed off the gnats and allowed the outbreak to run its course. 

It's the first time FWP has reported EHD deaths west of the Divide. 


FWP hopes for test results on deer deaths next week

FWP photo(MISSOULA)- Biologists with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks are hoping to have test results next week which will help them determine whether a disease carried by gnats is to blame for killing hundreds of deer in the Missoula region. 

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks began receiving calls about large quantities of dead deer west of Missoula earlier this month. As of late last week as many as 100 reports had come in. But now the estimate has climbed to 200 deer. 

FWP spokeswoman Vivaca Crowser says the reports are also coming in from a wider area, with calls of dead deer east up the Clark Fork Valley and in the Bitterroot. 

However, Crowser says biologists are still waiting for test results to determine if the deer died from Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease, or EHD, which is transmitted by a biting midge or gnats. If the test results are positive in these cases, it will be the first time EHD has shown up west of the Continental Divide in Montana.


FWP issues warnings after rash of sheep collisions 

(MISSOULA)- Managers with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks are warning drivers to be more careful in sheep territory, after seven bighorns were killed on West Central Montana highways in the past week.

FWP says five sheep were killed in collisions with cars and trucks on Highway 200 in the cliffs east of Bonner, with another killed on Lower Rock Creek and a seventh sheep killed when it was hit on Highway 93 along the East Fork of the Bitterroot south of Conner. Fortunately, none of the drivers or passengers were hurt in the wrecks. 

FWP Region 2 Wildlife Biologist, Vickie Edwards, says that bighorn sheep have a small habitat niche that often is bisected by road systems and residential and agricultural development.  

“These areas may not be wildlife crossings per se, but are within year-round, core habitat for bighorn sheep, with bighorns attracted to roadways for salt and irrigated pastures and lawns for green vegetation,” says Edwards. 

Also, FWP says bighorn sheep adapt quickly to vehicular activity and are not always wary of traffic, especially young lambs. 

“Tall grasses along roadways make it challenging for motorists to see adult bighorn sheep, let alone lambs of the year that may dart in front of oncoming traffic,” Edwards says.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks urges motorists to use caution in areas with bighorn sheep and to anticipate bighorns emerging onto roadways without warning.  Motorists in Region 2 may encounter bighorn sheep along the East Fork of the Bitterroot, Highway 93 south of Darby, Skalkaho Road, Highway 1 near Anaconda, Petty Creek Road, Highway 200 along the Blackfoot River and Rock Creek. 


FWP lengthens wolf season, increases bag limit

USFWS photo by J. & K. Hollingsworth(HELENA)- Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioners have approved the agency's most aggressive wolf season ever, increasing bag limits and lengthening the season in an effort to stabilize wolf numbers. 

The FWP Commission met Wednesday in Helena to finalize the rules and regulations for the upcoming season, as the state continues to use hunting as a tool to control the wolf population in Montana. 

This year the wolf rifle hunting season will start on September 15th and last until March 31st, which is a couple of weeks longer than the 2012-13 season. The commission also approved the use of electronic calls, and increased the bag limit to five wolves per hunter, the most ever allowed. 

However, in a nod to concerns from Yellowstone National Park biologists, the state decided to reduce the bag limit to one wolf per hunter near the park and limited the total number of wolves in that zone. There had been concerns from the park and conservation groups that aggressive hunting nearby could endanger the population of wolves in the park. 

Wolf trapping will also be allowed this year, with the season starting in mid-December and running through February 28th. The wolf archery season will run from September 7th through September 14th. 


Power outage kills thousands of fish at Eureka hatchery

(EUREKA)- Managers with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks are now estimating as many as 160,000 fish were killed when power failed at a hatchery outside Eureka over the weekend. 

FWP says the power outage Sunday morning shutdown the water pumps at the Murray Springs State Fish Hatchery, shutting off the pumped water that is critical to the operation. The agency says the backup generator failed to start automatically, meaning the pumps were down for more than 3-hours leading to what's being called a "significant fish kill."

Fish that died include 30,000 hearing Gerrard Rainbow Trout, which were to be released in Lake Koocanusa, and 47,000 Redband Rainbow Trout measuring about 2-inches that were set for release in smaller lakes in the Libby and Eureka area. The kill also wiped out about 6,000 two year old Westslope Cutthroat that were planned for Holland and Lindbergh Lakes in the Swan Valley and 50,000 smaller Eagle Lake rainbows. 

FWP biologists believe they can offset some of the impacts by using surplus fish from other state hatcheries. But even so, stocking in lakes around Lincoln County will likely see the impacts from the fish kill for the next two years.