Montana Public Radio

Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks

A virus threatening to wipe out entire populations of rabbits across multiple states was found for the first time in Montana recently.

Four dead feral rabbits in Yellowstone County tested positive earlier this month for a virus that causes Rabbit Hemorrhagic Disease, according to the Montana Department of Livestock.

The highly contagious and fatal disease threatens domestic and wild rabbit populations, as well as hares and pikas. It does not affect humans.

The view southeast over the McKillop Creek Road near Libby, Montana. The land is part of the private timber lands in northwest Montana belonging to Southern Pine Plantations.
Chris Boyer / Kestrelaerial.com

The owner of a large block of private timberland in northwest Montana says it’s likely done its last major land sale after a deal announced this week. Southern Pine Plantations sold 125,000 acres of timberland west of Kalispell.

Hunter with a rifle.
iStock

A bill heard at the Montana Legislature Tuesday reignited a long-running debate over the role of money in hunting access in Montana.

Montana Governor Greg Gianforte Monday said directors nominated to lead 12 state agencies will receive an average salary increase of 20 percent over their predecessors. Funding for the pay increases will come from their respective departments.

“Montana’s pay for agency directors has been among the worst in our region and country," Gianforte said in a press release. "We’re looking for folks who can make our state agencies more responsive to the people they serve and more responsible stewards of taxpayer dollars."

Former Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Director Martha Williams was appointed on Wednesday as second-in-command at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the Biden Administration. William’s replacement within Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte’s cabinet was also named today.

Two grizzly bear cubs killed by a train near Trego were discovered Oct. 15, 2019.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

The BNSF Railway Company Tuesday published a long-awaited habitat conservation plan intended to reduce grizzly bear mortalities in Northwest Montana.

White-tailed deer.
(PD)

Wildlife officials say new data show that the Ruby Valley in southwest Montana has become a hotspot for chronic wasting disease, a disease fatal to deer, elk and moose.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks spokesperson Greg Lemon says this year’s data has shed light on the prevalence of the disease in the Ruby Valley near Sheridan, where CWD showed up in 23 percent of samples.

Fish cooking over a campfire.
iStock

Wildlife managers across the region noted a drastic increase in the number of people recreating in bear country this year, but that spike didn’t lead to a bump in conflicts between humans and grizzlies. 

That's the takeaway from a year-end review of grizzly management in the Lower 48 states this week.

Public access to roughly 7,200 acres of private timberland in northwest Montana is now permanently protected. State regulators Thursday approved purchasing an easement on the land for $4.5 million.

Cow elk.
PD

A citizens group met for the first time Thursday to begin the process of revising the 15-year-old statewide elk management plan in Montana.

Elk numbers in Montana have rebounded from about 8,000 in the 1920s to more than 150,000 today. But agreeing on how many of those ungulates there should be — and where — is a complicated affair.

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