Moose Management in Southwest Montana: Insights From Four Years of Field Research

Scientific Disciplines
Biological Sciences - Terrestrial
Mount Haggin Wildlife Management
Habitat conservation
browse surveys
Volume 18, No. 1-4

Moose management in southwest montana: Insights 
From four years of field research
Braden O. Burkholder*, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Butte, MT 59701
Vanna J. Boccadori, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. Butte, MT 59701
Robert A. Garrott, Department of Ecology, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717
From 2007-2010, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks conducted research on moose 
ecology on the Mount Haggin Wildlife Management Area in southwestern Montana.  In this 
presentation, we will briefly review our methodology and results, but will largely focus on 
the management implications of this research and potential ideas for future research.  The 
goals of this research were to determine the habitat selection of cow moose during winter 
with an emphasis on willow community importance and to examine population-scale willow 
browse utilization through browse patterns.  We also sought to contribute to a foundation for 
future research on moose in Montana.  Using browse surveys on willow (Salix spp.) and GPS 
collars on cow moose, we were able to determine the current intensity of willow browse and 
basic habitat use of cow moose (e.g. home range size and location), and to model variables 
associated with both browse utilization and habitat selection.  Management implications of 
the browse surveys include suggestions regarding sample sizes and sample site placement 
for future monitoring of willow community health or browse utilization.  Additionally, 
species preference by moose has implications for riparian restoration.  The habitat selection 
analysis showed the importance of willow and conifer communities and has implications 
for habitat conservation and aerial survey methods.  Future research on moose ecology in 
Montana should focus on the impact of changing habitat and climate on habitat selection and 
population dynamics, the role of predation on populations of moose, and improving aerial or 
other survey techniques to more accurately monitor moose population trends.