HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) — Researchers have ear-tagged 81 elk calves this spring as part of a three-year elk survival study in the southern part of the Bitterroot Valley in western Montana.

Lead researcher Kelly Proffitt of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks said the study is expected to finish next June. The study is being conducted by FWP and the University of Montana.

Mark Hebblewhite with the school says when the study first started many people thought wolves were killing elk calves and driving down the overall elk population.

But after two years the study found mountain lions killed more elk calves.

That led to a mountain lion study last winter that Proffitt says revealed more lions in the region than expected.