Study: Beetle-Killed Trees’ Impact on Elk

Source: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) is partnering up with the U.S. Forest Service to conduct a study that will determine if beetle-killed trees have an effect on elk movement.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) is partnering up with the U.S. Forest Service to conduct a study that will determine if beetle-killed trees have an effect on elk movement.

Wildlife researchers want to know how some of Montana’s prized elk are doing after a pine beetle epidemic killed millions of trees across Western Montana.

“In this part of the state it’s a pretty big impact, landscape scale impact on elk habitat. And so, we are just trying to understand as tree disease progresses how are elk responding to that,” said Kelly Proffitt with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

Western Montana’s forests were filled with red trees just a few years ago and now wildlife researchers want to know what impacts these beetle killed trees might have on wildlife.

“It could affect forage availability and quality for the females, it could also affect security for the bulls,” Proffitt explained.

The FWP study in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service, which also wants to know if elk movements have changed because of the beetle kill. “We are trying to understand, especially in the fall hunting seasons, how bulls and cows are distributed,” Proffitt said.

The unique Montana study will hopefully allow forest managers across the west to manage for healthy wildlife populations. The study is expected to conclude next year.