A meeting aimed at updating residents, landowners and sportsmen about the ongoing elk brucellosis project in southwest Montana is set for Tuesday, December 18, at Region 3 headquarters in Bozeman from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks wants to alert the public about its intention to capture elk in the southern Pioneer Mountains this winter, then the southern Tobacco Roots in the winter of 2013-2014. A meeting has already been held in Twin Bridges to address the concerns of those in the area closest to upcoming capture operations.
This meeting will also serve to address questions and concerns about the project and include a discussion about the efforts and recommendations of the Elk Brucellosis Working Group. The Working Group — made up of 12 citizens — devised several proposals meant to address brucellosis and elk management.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is in the midst of a multiyear study to evaluate the presence of brucellosis among elk in southwestern Montana and improve understanding of how elk herds interact. In January of this year, crews captured and tested 130 cow elk (30 were captured south of Bannack, 93 were captured southeast of Dillon, and seven elk that were part of last year’s operation were recaptured near the Blacktail Wildlife Management Area).
In the course of this study, elk that are shown to be positive for exposure to brucellosis are fitted with GPS collars, and if pregnant they are implanted with radio devices that are expelled upon birth or abortion events. This information allows FWP to evaluate the risk of brucellosis transmission. Additional GPS collars are placed on animals that test negative for exposure to the disease to improve understanding of movements and interaction with adjoining herds. Any elk that tests positive for exposure to brucellosis for five years will be removed from the population.