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Wildlife numbers up in northeastern Montana; hunting quotas also
Associated Press

GLASGOW (AP) - Some wildlife populations are up from a year ago in parts of northeastern Montana and so are the proposed hunting quotas, despite widespread deaths of younger deer and antelope during the past winter.

Wildlife managers are recommending increasing permit quotas for deer and elk in many of the Region 6 hunting districts to bring populations down and ensure another tough winter doesn't result in widespread winterkill.

The proposed, more liberal quotas also would let hunters take advantage of the relative abundance and prevent or reduce big-game damage to crops and haystacks.

Tentative quotas for deer, elk and antelope were approved by Montana's Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission in May. The commission plans to finalize the quotas next month, and adjust permit numbers based on recent population surveys, habitat conditions and public comments.

In Region 6, tentative quotas for either-sex and antlerless elk, antlerless mule deer and antlerless white-tailed deer are generally higher than last year.

With the exception of District 632, antlerless elk quotas throughout the Missouri Breaks portion of Region 6 have higher tentative permit quotas.

In the western part of the region, white-tailed deer have rebounded from a disease outbreak a few years ago, and the increased population regionwide has fueled the proposed increase in the antlerless quota.

Mule deer numbers in Districts 630, 650 and 670 were above average during winter surveys and warrant an increase in antlerless permits, despite the loss of the majority of the fawn crop this past winter, said wildlife biologist Pat Gunderson.

If it appears that production this summer is low, the proposed increases will not be recommended, he said.

Generally, antelope in Region 6 didn't fare as well as other big-game populations, and wildlife managers expect to recommend reductions in quotas after aerial surveys in July.

Copyright © 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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