BILLINGS — Government biologists say elk numbers in the northern part of Yellowstone National Park are at their highest level in more than a decade.
Results of a two-day winter survey released Wednesday showed more than 7,500 elk in Yellowstone and areas of Montana north of the park.
That’s up more than 40 percent compared to 2017 and marks the highest population level since 2005.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Karen Loveless says good weather during the aerial survey contributed to this year’s high number. But she says trends over the past several years confirm the population is increasing.
The northern Yellowstone herd is popular among hunters and tourists. It suffered a protracted decline beginning in the mid-1990s, dropping below 4,000 animals by 2013 due to hunting, predation by wolves and other factors.
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