Heavy Montana Winter Takes Toll on Wildlife

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As most of North America starts to escape from the icy clutches of another winter, it's looking like some states have taken a heavier than usual winter loss of wildlife. According to NBC Montana, parts of eastern Montana took a beating this winter and hunting licenses may be impacted this fall.

Record-setting snow and brutally cold temperatures this winter had a huge impact on eastern Montana. Wildlife experts say animals are being driven to roads and train tracks because they're easier to travel along. More than 800 ungulates have been killed by trains, including one train taking out 270 antelope.

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arrowflipper's picture

ugly winters

Winters have been severe all across the nation this year.  I'm sure wildlife has been impacted in other parts of the country, but maybe not quite as badly as in Montana.  The one question I would raise is the number of animals killed on roadways and/or the railway in a normal year?  I'm sure there are hundreds killed every year, but not as many as this one.  The antelope thing is just a freak accident.  How often does something like that happen.

But what I would question is the extra number this year in relation to other years?  My guess is that several hundred animals get killed by trains every year.  What I would fear more than that would be those that starved or froze to death.  That number could be much higher and have a greater impact on the population.

You guys make me COLD just reading about your winters, and how cold it is right now.  I get up in the morning to the forties and think it's cold.  We probably had a total of six to ten inches of the white stuff this winter.  The wildlife is healthy and abundant.  I knew there was some reason I lived here in the northwest.  What's funny is that I live farther north than most of you do, and it's still not that cold.

By the way, what's farther North, Maine or here in Blaine, Washington where I live???  That's not a trick question.

hunter25's picture

Hopefully the herds can

Hopefully the herds can recover quickly from a winter such as this one. He stated that the winters have been mild for several years now so maybe populations were  high enough to not be seriously impacted for more than a season or two. With reduced tags and hopefully a more mild winter next year things should pick right back up.

I had heard of game animals being hit by trains before but had no idea that it happened so often or as in the case of the antelope that so many could be killed at one time.

Good report that helps with our decision making for the upcoming seasons.

jaybe's picture

That was quite a story. All

That was quite a story. All those antelope killed by a train - over 270! I recently counted 37 whitetail road kills along a 90 mile stretch of highway and thought that was pretty heavy. The article mentioned the fact that it was the heavy snow that caused the animals to go to the roads and train tracks looking for food. Perhaps this is what happened here as well.

We have definitely had a long, cold winter here in Michigan. I just talked to a man from the Cadillac area (northern lower peninsula) and they still have a foot of snow on the ground. Another friend told me just yesterday that there is still almost 24" of ice on some of the lakes up there. Even today, here in southeastern Michigan, it was 11 degrees this morning.

Hopefully, the deer and antelope herd will make a comeback and hunting opportunities will not be curtailed too much.