Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will capture up to 100 female elk with the aid of a helicopter to test for brucellosis in the coming weeks in the Tendoy Mountains and Lima Peaks southwest of Dillon and on the eastern side of the Madison Valley.
Thirty of the animals will be fitted with radio collars to track their movements for one year, according to a news release.
FWP will process the elk on site, and the animals will be released as quickly and safely as possible.
There are similar plans for the Madison where the capture operations plan for 40 female elk from the Bear Creek Wildlife Management Area and from between Indian Creek and Wolf Creek. Again, all the elk will be tested for brucellosis, and each animal will be fitted with a radio collar to track its movement for up to three years.
The goal of these operations is to evaluate the presence and understand the movement of brucellosis in Montana’s elk populations. The research will also help FWP understand the overlap between elk and livestock on the landscape.
In the case of the Madison, researchers will also be looking to evaluate the influence of management actions on elk distribution.
Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that infects cattle, bison, and elk and can result in abortion or the birth of weak calves. The disease is primarily transmitted through contact with infected birth tissues and fluids.
Animals that test positive for brucellosis exposure do not necessarily carry or spread the disease but at one time were exposed to brucellosis and have developed antibodies that can be measured with blood tests.
This project is a joint effort with the Montana Department of Livestock with support from the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation.
FWP asks the public to avoid the capture area for their personal safety as well as that of the staff and the animals.
More information about brucellosis and the Targeted Elk Brucellosis Surveillance project can be found online at fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/diseasesAndResearch/healthPrograms/brucellosis.