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Vehicle Restrictions Influence Elk and Hunter Distribution in Montana

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Restricting vehicle use on portions of two areas in Montana led to contrasting results in overall hunting pressure, in seasonal distribution of hunters and of elk, and in elk harvest. The Judith River area of the Lewis and Clark National Forest was two-thirds forested with interspersed clearcuts and natural openings; here hunting pressure increased 26 percent, but distribution through the seasons was unchanged. Conversely, on the Ruby River area of the Beaverhead National Forest, essentially open grassland with scattered islands of timber, overall hunting pressure did not change significantly, but was more uniformly distributed through the seasons when travel was restricted. The numbers of elk seen and killed per hunter each increased 28 percent under vehicle restrictions on the Judith River area. However, the uniformity of sightings and kills through the seasons increased markedly on the Ruby but not on the Judith. Differing responses were believed due mostly to differences in total forest cover on the two areas. Hunters spent more time walking, and consequently saw more elk under restricted travel conditions than under unrestricted travel.

Document Type: Journal Article

Affiliations: Research Biologist, Montana Department of Fish and Game, Bozeman

Publication date: March 1, 1979

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  • The Journal of Forestry is the most widely circulated scholarly forestry journal in the world. In print since 1902, the Journal has received several national awards for excellence. The mission of the Journal of Forestry is to advance the profession of forestry by keeping forest management professionals informed about significant developments and ideas in the many facets of forestry: economics, education and communication, entomology and pathology, fire, forest ecology, geospatial technologies, history, international forestry, measurements, policy, recreation, silviculture, social sciences, soils and hydrology, urban and community forestry, utilization and engineering, and wildlife management. The Journal is published bimonthly: January, March, May, July, September, and November.
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