Snow and Cold Taking Toll on Montana Pronghorn and Deer Pops

Last week on Field Notes we asked what the winterkill situation was in your state or region, but here's a sobering reminder of just how bad this winter has been in some parts of the country, in this case northeast Montana.

From this story in the Great Falls (Mont) Tribune:
For three hours on a recent afternoon, Blaine County Undersheriff Pat Pyette and a deputy shot wounded antelope. The herd had congregated on the only place clear of snow ˜ railroad tracks used by BNSF Railway Co. Pyette figures he and the deputy put down about 100 animals that day, about 5 miles east of Savoy. Parts and pieces from another 200 antelope were strewn across the tracks, enough to fill a dozen dump trucks, he said.
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_"...Bouts of bitter arctic air, coupled with record-breaking snowfall in northeast Montana and southern Alberta, are taking a heavy toll on wildlife this season ˜ particularly pronghorn antelope and deer. The animals struggle to forage for food, which is trapped beneath a thick and crusty layer of snow. The large herds also are heading to the highways and railroad tracks, seeking a clear path to migrate to less snow-covered spaces, and they are dying by the dozens and even hundreds. Mark Sullivan, a Fish, Wildlife & Parks program manager in northeastern Montana, said a train recently killed approximately 270 antelope by Vandalia, west of Glasgow, and 18 deer were found strewn across the tracks near a Chinook-area grain elevator. "This is an exceptional winter on the Hi-Line," Sullivan said. "The numbers are getting close to 800 animals reported, and I'm sure there are a fair number of animals killed by trains that we don't know about."

Thoughts?