Some livestock owners in the region have urged an aggressive response, including the possible slaughter of diseased elk.
Montana wildlife officials plan to capture 500 female elk over the next five years to track the spread of a disease that can threaten cattle.
The study is scheduled to begin this winter and will target brucellosis, which causes some animals to abort their young.
The disease is confined in the U.S. to the Yellowstone region of Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. Periodic infections over the last decade have prompted federal restrictions on the three states' interstate beef trade.
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