The increase in female fawns and more surviving to reproductive age beginning in 2014 because of fewer with underbite has produced a visible increase in white-tailed deer the last two years.
The female fawns born in 2014 and 2015 were old enough to produce fawns of their own in 2016 and 2017, leading to the significant increase in the deer population reported by MDFWP. The same is true of elk, with increasing elk populations, also reported by MDFWP.
There are still wolves in Montana, far more than in the late 1990s, thus it would appear that the sex ratio highly skewed in favor of males and the serious birth defects (and the mortality they caused) that began in spring of 1995 (prior to any wolves being released) was always the true cause of the population declines in deer and elk and not the wolves (before or after their release) as my colleagues and I have stated many times. The data and many studies support this.
The bad news is the increase in male reproductive malformations, affecting antler growth and size. This and far less males born for hunters to shoot will undoubtedly adversely impact businesses that cater to trophy hunting.
Judy Hoy, Stevensville