Elk NetworkMontana Adopts New Elk Management Plan and Environmental Assessment

General | December 6, 2023

Below is a news release from Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks has adopted the 2023 Elk Management Plan and accompanying environmental assessment (EA).

The elk plan lays out how FWP will manage elk; the EA is an evaluation and summary of potential impacts on the physical environment and human population.

The new plan is flexible and reflects current elk management direction and challenges, as well as being forward-looking in anticipating management changes.

“Development of the new elk plan was a long and expansive process, and we appreciate all the public input we received,” said Dustin Temple, FWP Director. “Elk management is controversial in Montana, but through this process we saw people with varying interests come together with new ideas. That collaboration is captured in the plan and will be critical moving forward.”

Highlights of the new plan include:

  • Less prescriptive-more objective/goal focused management
  • Identification of recommended special management districts for bull elk
  • Updated population size goals
  • Plan update schedule and lifespan – the 2023 plan includes an option for updates every five years (offset from biennial season setting years), with an expected lifespan of at least 15 years
  • Categorization at the local scale by hunting districts rather than elk management units
  • Recreation and distribution objectives in addition to population demographics objectives
  • Metrics to determine management success
  • Averages of counts to evaluate population status

Along with the plan, FWP also released its most contemporary elk counts and associated maps. These counts and maps are updated annually. To view them, click here.

(Photo credit: Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks)