Montana Game Damage Hunts Open June 15

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Hunters interested in participating in game-damage hunting opportunities on private land this year need to register online beginning Friday, June 15 with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

Game damage occurs when animals like elk, deer, and antelope concentrate on private farms and ranches and eat crops and hay. FWP’s game damage hunt rules are designed to respond to the needs of landowers who provide public hunting during the general hunting season, yet who could nevertheless suffer losses due to wildlife damage without this additional management tool.

In addition to game damage hunts, those who register will also be eligible for special management season hunts. Special management seasons are called for in response to concentrations of big game due to seasonal migrations, extreme weather conditions, restrictive public hunting on adjacent or nearby properties, and other factors.

The 30-day roster sign-up for such hunts is set for June 15-July 15. A final game damage roster, randomly generated from all the online registrations, will be posted by Aug 1. Hunts could take place anytime from Aug. 15 through Feb.15, 2008. Officials stress however, that game-damage hunts are only offered when needed and the need for such hunts may or may not develop. FWP will contact hunters on the game damage rosters if hunting opportunities arise.

Prospective hunters must register for the hunt rosters online at fwp.mt.gov. Click on "2007 Game Damage Hunt Roster" listed under For Hunters to register. The Internet-based registration can be completed at most public libraries or at any FWP office.

To register, hunters will need their ALS number and they'll be prompted to enter a preferred hunting district for potential deer, elk, and antelope game damage hunts. Hunting districts with a history of game damage harvests will be highlighted on a drop-down menu. Prospective hunters may choose to participate in all three species lists. Hunters are urged to print the confirmation page upon completion of the registration process.

The effort to create hunter rosters is specifically intended to decrease game damage response time and to generally streamline the game damage process. Montana's general five-week hunting season, and the creation of more either-sex seasons for big game, eliminated methods used in past years to generate lists of prospective game damage hunters.