courtesy of Outdoor Life
by Andrew McKean
Earlier this winter, as the first wave of deep snow and arctic cold slammed northeastern Montana, Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ game warden Todd Anderson was dispatched early one morning by the Valley County (Montana) Sheriff’s office.
“I was told that the BNSF (Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad) engineer had just called to say his train had hit a herd of antelope west of Vandalia, and there were wounded animals to dispatch,” Anderson told me this week. “I drove out there, and as I got close, I was flagged down by a railroad worker.”
The incident had happened a mile from the nearest crossing, so the BNSF employee offered to drive Anderson to the scene in his converted pickup, outfitted with a locomotive’s running gear to travel the tracks.
courtesy of The Missoulian
by The Associated Press
Hundreds of pronghorn antelope and deer have been killed by trains in Montana this winter after herds gathered on tracks to escape deep snows, a state wildlife official says.
Mark Sullivan, of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, said that a train recently killed about 270 pronghorn antelope near Vandalia in northeastern Montana, and 18 deer were found dead on the tracks by a grain elevator near Chinook.
Many antelope not killed by the impact had to be destroyed by Blaine County authorities.
“To hunt and shoot animals is just different than shooting wounded animals like that,” Blaine County Undersheriff Pat Pyette told the Great Falls Tribune. “You’re close to it. You can look into their eyes. We see a lot of things, but (the deputy) was sick to his stomach after that.”
courtesy of the Billings Gazette
by Brett French
Across northeastern Montana, continuous snow and cold have left antelope weakened and dying. Whitetail deer swarm haystacks like flies on meat. Carcasses of dead antelope and deer litter the hillsides and valleys. Only the golden and bald eagles, magpies and crows are getting fat as they scavenge the animal corpses.
“It’s difficult out there, and they’ve been doing it since November,” Johnson said.
Bad winters are common across the rolling prairie of northeastern Montana, only miles from the Canadian border. But this winter has been harsher than normal, with snow coming earlier and heavier.
“We’re well on the way to having a record-breaking winter,” said Mark Sullivan, FWP’s Glasgow-region wildlife manager. “It’s tough on wildlife, no doubt.”