HAMILTON — The number of new elk in a Montana valley has dropped due to lingering low-level snowpack and cold.
The Ravalli Republic reported Wednesday that the annual ratio between cows and calves in the Bitterroot Valley dropped from 24 calves per 100 cows last year to 18 calves this year.
The figure was determined by an annual spring elk monitoring flight.
There were 7,851 elk in the five hunting districts surrounding the valley in western Montana, compared to 8,585 last year.
A Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks official says the late spring greening may result in pregnant cows delivering underweight calves with a lower chance of survival.
The official says the area “could end up seeing two years of a low cow-calf ratio.”