Wednesday, February 2, 2011
Jack Frost descended on northeastern Montana with a scythe this year and he has been busy using it. I received word today that the Pronghorn deaths from train collisions in the last few weeks is now at least 700 animals across the the northern part of Montana.
As I drove south from Fort Peck to Billings this morning I witnessed first had that it's not only trains that old Mister Frost is using to exact his toll. Exhaustion and starvation are now coming into play full force. As I have mentioned before, the snow is deep and crusted and the last two nights the temperature had dipped well below zero, tapping even more energy from these animals just to stay warm. Forage is hard to come by and with well over a month to go before we usually have any relief with warming temperatures and melting snow, Jack is going to be busy in February.
In addition to the railroads, our highway are also one of the few places left where snow depth does not limit movement and the Pronghorn are using the roadways to move too. With the same results as the railways. I came across a number of spots where a vehicle had plowed into a herd of Pronghorn moving down the highway, resulting in twisted, frozen carcasses tossed in the ditches on either side of the road.
It has already been a long winter for these animals and it is probably going to get worse before it gets better. March and melting snow can't come soon enough.