Moose Distribution And Age And Sex Ratios In Northwest Montana As Reported By Hunters At Check Stations

Scientific Disciplines
Biological Sciences - Terrestrial
montana fish wildlife and parks
check stations
Volume 17, No. 1-4

Moose distribution and age and sex ratios in northwest 
Montana as reported by hunters at check stations
John Vore, * Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, 490 N. Meridian, Kalispell, Montana  59901,
Bruce Sterling, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, P.O Box 35, 601 N. Columbia St., Thompson 
Falls, Montana  59873,
Timothy Their, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, P.O. Box 507, Trego, Montana 59934,  tthier@
Tonya Chilton-Radandt, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 385 Fish Hatchery Rd., Libby, Montana 
We sought to better document moose (Alces alces) distribution and age and sex ratios in 
northwest Montana by asking hunters. During the 2010 hunting season we asked all hunters 
stopping at six check stations if they had seen moose, and if so, where, how many, and if they 
saw bulls, cows or calves. During the 13 days that check stations were open 17,564 hunters 
reported 490 sightings totaling 749 moose (313 bulls, 320 cows, 95 calves and 21 unknown) 
for an average of 1.5 moose per sighting (range 1 - 5). Across all check stations there was 
an average of 2.8 sightings and 4.3 moose seen per 100 hunters, but this varied from 0.9 
sightings and 1.2 moose per 100 hunters at the Swan Check Station to 6.9 sightings and 10.4 
moose per 100 hunters at Canoe Gulch. The bulls per 100 cows ratio averaged 98:100 across 
all check stations but varied from 67:100 at Canoe Gulch to 225:100 at the Swan. Likewise, 

the calves per 100 cows ratio averaged 30:100 but varied from 8:100 at the Swan to 54:100 at 
Thompson Falls. Hunter-reported sex and age ratios at the North Fork Check Station agreed 
with those observed during a post-season helicopter survey in the same area (χ2 p = 0.83), but 
hunter-reported ratios at Olney were significantly higher than those observed by helicopter (χ2 
p = 0.01). We discuss the difficulty of monitoring moose populations and the pros and cons of 
helicopter surveys and hunter-reported moose sightings.