The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is working closely with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), a landowner and other partners to determine the feasibility of adding to the state’s Dome Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA). If successful, the WMA would expand from 4,712 acres to 10,078 acres.
“With a considerable portion of the herd migrating out of the Park during the winter, we need to ensure that they have a place to go in perpetuity,” said Blake Henning, RMEF chief conservation officer. “While FWP is considering the use of its Habitat Montana Fund, RMEF is also willing to commit substantial resources from its Strategic Land Protection Fund and Torstenson Family Endowment to the effort.”
RMEF has been a significant player in conserving and enhancing elk habitat in the Greater Yellowstone Area since the late 1980’s. Working with various partners, RMEF assisted with approximately 30 land protection projects completed to date (see graphic) to add winter and migratory habitat protections for the northern Yellowstone Elk herd.“There is an acute need for winter range for the elk and deer and the wildlife in the Paradise Valley and northern Yellowstone National Park,” Dan Vermillion, chair of the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.
Increasing the size of the existing WMA can have substantial benefits for elk but also mule deer, bighorn sheep, grizzly bears and a wide array of other species. In addition, such an effort would significantly enhance public recreational access for hunting, fishing, hiking and wildlife viewing in an area where these opportunities are becoming more and more limited.
“This is a very significant opportunity but also a substantial effort that will take a broad partnership of support,” added Henning.