Synthesizing Moose Management, Monitoring, Past Research, And Future Research Needs In Montana

Scientific Disciplines
Biological Sciences - Terrestrial
Montana State University
alces shirasi
Volume 17, No. 1-4

Synthesizing moose management, monitoring, past 
Research, and future research needs in montana
Ty D. Smucker,* Fish and Wildlife Management Program, Department of Ecology, Montana State 
University, Bozeman, Montana 59717,
Robert A. Garrott, Fish and Wildlife Management Program, Department of Ecology, Montana State 
University, Bozeman, Montana 59717,
Justin A. Gude, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Helena Montana 59620,
Perceived declines in Shiras moose (Alces alces shirasi) in many areas across Montana 
in recent years have elicited concern from biologists, managers, and members of the public. 
Interest in moose research in Montana has correspondingly been mounting, however little 
new research has occurred. For this reason we attempted to synthesize existing knowledge 
and management programs for moose in Montana to provide collective awareness of the 
issues and research needs for moose. We used structured interviews of wildlife biologists 
and managers that work with moose to document current moose management in Montana. 
Most biologists reported that moose were stable or decreasing in their areas of responsibility. 
Predation was the most common concern for factors limiting moose, followed by habitat 
succession, hunter harvest, disease and parasites, Native American harvest, and habitat loss, 
fragmentation and degradation.  In addition to information from post-season surveys of moose 
permit holders, biologists assessed moose populations using information from a variety of 
sources including landowner reports, hunter reports collected at check stations, unadjusted 
trend counts, bull: cow ratios, recruitment ratios, sightability-corrected population estimates 
and habitat condition. Nearly all respondents felt that available information was inadequate 
in various ways for making moose management decisions. Clearly identified research needs 
include calibration of currently employed moose population indices to actual trends in moose 

populations, development of a survey program that will provide better and more moose survey 
data at the appropriate scale for management decisions, and research into how predation, 
habitat, disease, parasites, and climate affect moose survival and recruitment rates.