By Robert Lucke
Antelope in area hunting areas are on the increase according to Havre Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Al Rosgaard.
Generally, I think that across the region, antelope numbers are stable or increasing, said Rosgaard. I think mostly the fact that we have mild winters lately have resulted in improved fawn numbers and survival.
However, there are not enough antelope numbers to constitute problems with the prairie animals.
When we get into damage problems with wildlife, typically with antelope that doesnt happen as much because the antelope are out on the native prairie. There are times when land owners complain about the high numbers but I have not heard that about antelope. There might be an isolated place but not many, commented Rosgaard.
Best areas for seeing and hunting antelope in this part of Montana are hunting areas 600 and 690.
Area 600 runs west of the St. Joe Road, north to the Canadian border, south to US Highway 2 and east to north of Saco.
Area 690 uses US Highway 2 as its northern border, Highway 87 as its west border, the Missouri River for a southern border and stretches to Fort Belknap in the east.
In area 600 the count was similar to what we had last year and the year before, continued Rosgaard. I would have thought it would be increasing but the ratio of fawns to adult does was fairly low. Why that is, is not easy to explain but maybe there are a lot of yearling does and dry conditions last summer and fall could cut down fawn production. It still is within a healthy range but significantly lower than the fawn crop in area 690.
Survey results showed in area 600 60 fawns per 100 does while in area 690 there were 95 fawns per 100 does.
While the total count of antelope in area 600 was similar to last year, in area 690 it was up 25 percent from last year.
Because of that we maintained the permit level in 600 at 500 either sex permits and in 690 we increased from 750 to 1000 either sex permits, added Rosgaard.
There are plenty of buck antelope in either area this year although 600 has more.
In area 600 adult buck are maintaining real good. There are 56 bucks per 100 does, Rosgaard said. In 690 that is typically not as high. It is around 40 bucks per 100 does. The reason for that is that at least in the areas I fly, it is more doe and fawn habitat.
Seeing greater antelope numbers each year should be a continuing turn unless there are very bad conditions sometime in the future Rosgaard thinks.
Meanwhile are FWP employees have been busy going out and banding ducks lately. Their banding work has showed some strong waterfowl trends this year.
Waterfowl hunters should have good fall hunting all the way from Hill County to Valley County, said Rosgaard. When we were out banding ducks we saw good numbers of water fowl.
Not only that but Rosgaard and crew saw good numbers of broods and good numbers in broods of pheasants, grouse, sage hens and Hungarian partridge.