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Elk eating hay meant for livestock

Conservation > Wildlife Management > Migration and Movement > Private Land Agricultural Conflicts Caused by Migrating Wildlife

Crop and Property Damage from Migrating Big Game

FWP is committed to helping landowners reduce wildlife-livestock conflicts and to safeguard working lands operations and wildlife habitat. One program available to producers to reduce such conflicts is the FWP Game Damage Assistance Program. Provided by the use of license fees collected from hunters and anglers; landowners may be eligible for game damage assistance if they allow public hunting during established hunting seasons. Game damage assistance may include hazing, repellants, temporary or permanent stackyard fencing, damage hunts, kill permits, or supplemental game damage licenses. The primary intent of any response to game damage is to reduce damage to stored crops or property by re-distributing problematic concentrations of wildlife. Concentrations of wildlife are sometimes tied to seasonal migrations.

Another example is reducing the possibility of wildlife to livestock disease transmission through the utilization of a FWP brucellosis hazer. Hazers are implemented by FWP to assist keeping wildlife and cattle separate and assist with mitigation of the risk of transmission of brucellosis - a quickly spreading disease which causes cattle, bison, swine, elk and deer to abort their young.


Livestock Loss and Crop Damage from Dispersing Large Carnivores

FWP is committed to reducing livestock loss and crop damage from dispersing large carnivore. Humans have been living with grizzly bears in western Montana for decades.  However, grizzlies are increasingly roaming into areas where they have not been for a very long time resulting in surprised or unprepared homeowners and livestock producers. FWP works with partners and landowners to reduce livestock loss as grizzlies disperse into new areas particularly during the spring season when bears are moving across the landscape after the long winter.

Electrified livestock carcass pits and compost facilities keep carcasses secure from hungry bears reducing their interactions with humans and the potential for habituation to human activity. Lambing and calving season falls during the time bears are waking from hibernation and sometimes dispersing to new territories far away historically occupied areas. Proactively erecting bear resistant fencing around paddocks with young animals such as lambs can reduce livestock loss. These actions are particularly important in areas where grizzly bears are likely to frequent, such as river bottoms.


Project Highlight

An FWP project in western Montana is looking at additional ways to keep bears away from people in areas of expanding bear populations. The Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem grizzly bear populations continue to expand in numbers and distribution beyond the public land recovery zones originally established. The unintended consequence of this success is that grizzly bears are now inhabiting private lands dominated by agricultural production. The increase in grizzly bears using cropland is causing an increase in human-grizzly bear conflict and a reduction in tolerance. Many agricultural producers are upset over grizzly bears accessing grain spills near homes. When bears become food conditioned to grain spills at specific sites, overtime, the number of bears can increase dramatically. For example, as many as 10 grizzly bears may inhabit one farm where female grizzlies have taught their young to use specific grain spills for over the last decade.

This occurrence of grizzly bears accessing grain spills is relatively new, and no simple solution has been found to prevent their use of grain spills. Electric fence is expensive, maintenance intensive, and is difficult to design for semi-trucks and farm equipment to pass through easily and frequently.  Furthermore, grain spills are a regular occurrence on farms which move hundreds of thousands of pounds of grain daily. Due to the incredible volume of grain, cleaning up spills is also not a feasible solution, as additional spills occur shortly thereafter. In most circumstances, bears appear to habituate to scare devices when used for long periods of time. An immediate solution is needed to prevent additional generations of grizzly bears from becoming accustomed to extensive grain spills use near people.  With this in mind, FWP is working to test the efficacy of guard dogs at deterring grizzly bear activity near grain spills and documenting the interactions between a specialized dog breed and grizzly bears.


Landowner Resources

Conservation Easements and Fee Title Acquisitions

Helping landowners conserve key habitat, including wildlife movement corridors.

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Noxious Weed Management

The Montana Wildlife Habitat Improvement Act provides federal funding to restore priority wildlife habitats by managing noxious weeds.

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Fence Modification

Not all fences create problems for wild animals. By tailoring fence design and placement, landowners can reduce wildlife injuries and decrease damage to the fence.

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Game Damage

FWP is committed to reducing agricultural conflicts caused by migrating wildlife

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Disease transmission

Commingling of elk and livestock and the associated risk of brucellosis transmission while maintaining elk on the landscape.

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