Late winter can be a stressful time for deer and elk with deep snow, limited food options and depleted fat reserves.
That’s why Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is asking shed hunters and other recreationists to give deer and elk their space until the snow melts and the animals are less stressed.
Shed hunting – looking for antlers shed each year in the winter by male elk and deer so they can regrow a new pair – has become increasingly popular in recent years and more competitive.
While it is illegal to trespass on FWP’s wildlife management areas before they open (most of the Region 4 WMA’s open at noon on May 15) chasing deer and elk on accessible lands stresses the animals.
Snowmobilers, skiers, and snowshoers should avoid areas where animals are bedded down. It is safest to admire them at a distance. That’s especially true when dogs are involved.
It’s critical that dogs be kept on a leash when deer and elk are present and not chase them. The stress of a chase alone can eventually lead to the death of the animal.
Pets can be injured or killed while attempting to take down an animal big or small, and dog owners may be cited for permitting a dog to harass wildlife.