JORDAN - This summer's drought is taking a toll on Montanans, but especially eastern Montanans, and the lack of moisture is also impacting wildlife.
Some parts of eastern Montana are enduring one of the worst drought in decades and while this takes a toll on farms and ranches, wildlife also feel the effects of this summer's lack of moisture.
"The distribution of wildlife has been shifting this summer due to the drought conditions following both water supplies and green vegetation," said Jesse Kolar with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.
Congregations around water can lead to disease outbreaks, but the bigger impact on big game will depend on this upcoming winter. If severe enough we could see declines in populations and an increase in game damage.
"We hope that some of the problems can be alleviated through hunting seasons, so that more of those deer can be taken advantage of by hunters than be killed by the severe winters and that will also help to alleviate depredation complaints and problems we might have with too high of populations," Kolar said.
Thanks to eastern Montana’s diminishing water bodies, waterfowl are also feeling the impacts of this drought.
"We have noticed waterfowl a lot of them initiated nesting around a dam and those ponds dried, up so those waterfowl had to move on and we are noticing smaller reservoirs that have dried up completely with fewer ducks on them," Kolar stated.
The extreme conditions have FWP officials urging hunters to use extra caution this fall when they head to the field.
"Knowing that landowners are going to be exceptionally stressed this year, we just ask that hunters be respectful of the private landowners in Montana," Kolar said. "And hunting is a recreation we get to enjoy, so we hope people will be respectful of that and maintain those good relationships."
Hunters should make sure to check with FWP about what restrictions and closures are in place before heading out.