Fish & Wildlife - Region 3
Thursday, January 14, 2016
The Northern Yellowstone Cooperative Wildlife Working Group conducted its annual winter survey of the northern Yellowstone elk population on January 2, 2016. The survey, using four airplanes, was conducted by staff from the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks and the National Park Service. Staff counted 4,912 elk, including 1,154 elk (23%) inside Yellowstone National Park and 3,758 elk (77%) north of the park. Survey conditions were favorable across the region.
The 2016 count was very similar (1% higher) than the 2015 survey results of 4,840 elk, and was 25% higher than the lowest count of 3,915 elk in 2013. This year’s count of 4,912 was the highest since 6,037 elk were counted in 2010.
The Working Group will continue to monitor trends of the northern Yellowstone elk population and evaluate the relative contribution of various components of mortality, including predation, environmental factors, and hunting. The Working Group was formed in 1974 to cooperatively preserve and protect the long-term integrity of the northern Yellowstone winter range for wildlife species by increasing our scientific knowledge of the species and their habitats, promoting prudent land management activities, and encouraging an interagency approach to answering questions and solving problems. The Working Group is comprised of resource managers and biologists from the Montana Fish, Wildlife, & Parks, National Park Service (Yellowstone National Park), U.S. Forest Service (Custer Gallatin National Forest), and U.S. Geological Survey-Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, Bozeman.