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Big park elk herd continues decline
Encounters with automobiles are one factor cited in the sharp decrease in the population of a major Yellowstone National Park elk herd. The herd is only about 20 percent as large as it was 20 years ago. National Park Service

Big park elk herd continues decline

Mar 8, 2013 - The Associated Press

BILLINGS, Mont. -- A major elk herd that migrates between Yellowstone National Park and Montana continues to decline in size, with scientists reporting it now has fewer than 4,000 animals.

Scientists from the park and the Montana Department of Fish Wildlife and Parks said the Northern Yellowstone elk herd is down 6 percent this winter, to 3,915 animals.

The herd peaked at about 20,000 animals in 1992. That was just a few years before gray wolves were reintroduced to the Yellowstone area from Canada after being absent from the region for decades.

Also taking a toll on the herd have been hunters, other predators including mountain lions and bears, harsh winters, and being struck by automobiles.

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