MOOSE STATUS AND MANAGEMENT IN MONTANA

Nicholas J. DeCesare, Ty D. Smucker, Robert A. Garrott, Justin A. Gude

Abstract


Moose (Alces alces) are currently widespread across Montana where regulated moose hunting has occurred since 1872, >140 years ago. The number of annual moose hunting permits has averaged 652 over the past 50 years. The popular permits are allocated via a random drawing, with an annual average of ∼23,000 applicants in 2008–2012 who faced a 1.9% chance of success. Monitoring of moose largely occurs through annual harvest statistics collected via post-season phone surveys. Recent harvest statistics indicate lower hunter success, increased effort, and lower kill per unit effort, concurrent with >50% reduction in available permits since the 1990s. Aerial surveys also show decline in calf:adult ratios. In combination, these data suggest a declining trend in the statewide population, despite some ambiguity of certain data. Potential limiting factors include harvest, predation, vegetative succession and degradation, parasites, and climatic conditions, which were all identified as concerns in surveys of state biologists. Accordingly, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will direct funds derived from moose permit auctions toward calibrating and refining statewide monitoring methods and research of population dynamics and potential limiting factors of Montana moose.


Keywords


Alces alces shirasi, Elaeophora schneideri, harvest statistics, hunter success rates, KPUE, Shiras moose, subspecies

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