Montana lowers deer quotas in response to smaller herds

Drought and hard winters have reduced populations in southeast Montana

Montana is scaling back mule deer hunting licenses for this fall due to smaller deer populations in parts of the state.

Years of drought have affected mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) numbers in southeast Montana, where both survival and recruitment rates have dropped. Hard winters have also made it harder for fawns to survive into adulthood, resulting in a population 48% below the long-term average.

“It’s really not been just one thing,” said Brett Dorak, FWP Region 7 wildlife manager. “Hard winters, dry summers— it all takes a toll on mule deer in particular. But that’s what our adaptive harvest management plan is designed to address— localized conditions that impact populations.”

The lower numbers prompted wildlife officials to reduce antlerless licenses to allow for more female deer.

Read more from Bozeman Magazine.

Header Image: Drought and hard winters have taken their toll on Montana mule deer. Credit: Ken Lund