Located north of Yellowstone National Park, Montana officials are considering the acquisition of over 5,000 acres in an area state biologists and officials believe to be a pertinent migration corridor out of the park.

According to the commission, the land has been on the market for some time and its importance to the winter activities of elk cannot be understated.

“It’s important to the state of Montana because of the importance it plays in elk winter range,” Rick Northrup, the habitat bureau chief for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

The first steps in the acquisition process would be the decision to actually endorse the project, which is expected at tomorrow’s scheduled meeting.  After the endorsement portion is completed, the allocation of funding would be the next hurdle the commission would have to clear.  With no set pricing on the tract of land available, Northrup stated that the funding would likely come in part from the Habitat Montana Fund and from private partners.

The land is slated to be added to the Dome Mountain Wildlife Management Area at the southern end of Paradise Valley.  While it is noted to be a key migration corridor for the region’s elk, it is also home to a variety of other wildlife species.

With stable populations of elk in the area, to the tune of over 5,300 animals, Montana officials have noticed an increase in migrating elk heading into the state of Montana.  The purchase would secure the area permanently for the budding elk population.

“If this property were managed differently or if a future owner was not very supportive of elk using the property,” Northrup said, “there would be direct impacts on the northern elk herd, or quite a bit of conflicts that the department would have to be dealing with.”

If everything goes according to the commission’s plan, the Dome Mountain Wildlife Management Area will soon encompass over 10,000 acres of protected habitat.

“This will provide tremendous benefits for wildlife as well as hunting opportunity for Montana hunters,” Nick Gevock, the conservation director for the Montana Wildlife Federation said.