Winter can be a tough time for us humans, whether struggling with a pesky cold or digging out from the latest snowstorm. Now imagine what it’s like for Montana’s elk population. It’s an especially stressful time for elk, with deep snow and limited food options. That’s why Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is asking shed hunters and other recreationists to give elk their space until the snow melts and the animals are less stressed.
Shed hunting has become increasingly popular in recent years and more competitive. In some cases, that has led individuals to try to get a head start by running elk through trees to break off antlers or to trespass on Montana’s Wildlife Management Areas where elk find sanctuary this time of year (most do not open until noon on May 15). Both are illegal.
Snowmobilers, skiers, and snowshoers should avoid areas where elk are bedded down. It is safest to admire them at a distance.
Finally, many elk often come down to lowlands and might be found near homes. It’s critical that dogs be kept on a leash when elk are present. Dogs can cause serious injury or kill animals much larger than themselves. The stress of a chase alone can eventually lead to the death of the animal. And of course, pets can be injured or killed while attempting to take down an animal big or small. Dog owners might be cited for permitting a dog to harass wildlife.