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Wildfire, fire management and air quality news for western Montana and the Northern Rockies.

Wildlife Officials Say Wildfires May Be Good For Elk Habitat

Wildlife researchers found elk benefited from a wider variety of summer range vegetation in burned areas.
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Wildlife researchers found elk benefited from a wider variety of summer range vegetation in burned areas.

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Kelly Proffitt says a study has found that wildfires may be good for elk habitat.

Fourteen years after a fire burned in the East Fork of the Bitterroot River drainage, a 2014 study found elk in that area had had better body fat, more pregnancies and higher calf survival going into the winter months than elk that spent their summers along the West Fork of the Bitterroot.

Wildlife researchers found elk benefited from a wider variety of summer range vegetation in the burned areas.

The Missoulian reports wildfires in 2010 and 2011 farther south along the West Fork of the Bitterroot River are expected to produce a good bump in summer range productivity. That area will be carefully watched to see if elk health improves and the population increases.

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