Bozeman, MT — Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks recently completed a two-year collaborative sampling effort with the Montana Department of Livestock in the Bangtail Mountain Range as part of Montana’s Targeted Elk Brucellosis Surveillance Project.

One hundred samples taken from elk in the Bangtails in 2019 and 2020 have tested negative for brucellosis exposure.

The surveillance project includes capturing, sampling and collaring elk populations near the DOL’s Designated Surveillance Area (DSA), an area where livestock brucellosis testing and traceability requirements exist due to the presence of brucellosis in elk. The goal of the project, which began in 2011, is to determine the presence of brucellosis in elk and understand the movement patterns of elk populations. This research provides important data to inform the risk of disease transmission between elk and cattle on the landscape.

Elk were also sampled this year in the Ruby Mountains. FWP and DOL announced in February that two among 100 elk sampled there were found to be seropositive for brucellosis, indicating they’ve been exposed to the disease. The Ruby Mountains are currently outside but near the boundary of the DSA.

Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that can infect humans, but most commonly infects cattle, bison and elk, and can result in abortion or the birth of weak calves. The disease is primarily transmitted through contact with infected birth tissues and fluids.

For more information about brucellosis and the Targeted Elk Brucellosis Surveillance Project, visit fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/diseasesAndResearch/healthPrograms/brucellosis/.