Study: Beetle-Killed Trees’ Impact on ElkPosted: April 10, 2017
Source: Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Study: How the Pine Beetle Epidemic Effects Montana’s Elk
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 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 healthy wildlife populations. The study is expected to conclude next year.