FWP Seeks Public Comment on Big Game Season Tentative Proposals

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Tentative hunting regulations, approved by the Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission earlier this month, will be the subject of eleven public meetings around west-central Montana’s Region 2 in January. Public comments will be weighed as the Commission finalizes Montana’s 2006 hunting regulations in February.

Region 2 public meetings will be held in Drummond, Helmville, Ovando, Phillipsburg, Superior, Lincoln, Hamilton, Missoula, Seeley Lake, Anaconda and Deer Lodge to discuss the proposed changes to some 2006 seasons and quotas.

Some of the proposed changes for west-central Montana include increasing the length of the brow-tined bull/antlerless elk season in Hunting Districts 204, 240, 261, 250 and 270 by one week and increasing elk hunting opportunities in HD 280 to include a five-week brow-tined bull/antlerless general season to address elk depredation. In HD 283, which includes the Rattlesnake Wilderness, a proposed change would open the backcountry elk season Sept 15 with 75 antlerless and 5 either-sex permits available.

Additional proposals including initiating antlerless mule deer licenses in HDs 204, 281, 283, and 285 and creating a single-region over-the-counter antlerless white-tailed deer license. There is a parallel proposal to make late season antlerless white-tailed deer licenses valid only in HD 260, eliminating those in HDs 204, 240, 250, 261, and 270. A mountain lion permit system is also proposed to replace existing harvest quotas for western Montana’s Regions 1 and 2 to better manage competition among hunters and to help prevent accidental over harvest.

Several other statewide proposed changes include extending youth hunting opportunities from ages 12-14 to ages 12-17 and limiting transportation of white-tailed deer, mule deer and elk from states and provinces with documented cases of Chronic Wasting Disease.

Another state-wide proposal includes consolidating most elk hunting opportunities within Montana’s traditional five-week general hunting season to bring the state’s growing elk populations in line with management targets. This proposal would eliminate most late season and early season hunts to restore general public hunting as Montana’s primary big game population management tool.

The Region 2 meeting schedule to discuss these proposals is as follows:

· Drummond 1/4, 7 pm at Community Center

· Helmville 1/5, 7 pm at Helmville Community Center

· Ovando 1/10, 7 pm at Ovando Church

· Philipsburg 1/11, 7 pm at Granite County Museum

· Superior 1/12, 6 pm at Superior Ranger District

· Lincoln 1/16, 6 pm at Lambkins Restaurant

· Hamilton 1/16, 7 pm at Daly/Leach Memorial Chapel (lion regulations discussed after 8 pm)

· Missoula 1/17, 7 pm at Doubletree Hotel (lion regulations discussed after 8 pm)

· Seeley Lake 1/18, 7 pm at Chamber of Commerce Barn

· Anaconda 1/18, 7 pm at Ancient Order of the Hibernians Hall

· Deer Lodge 1/23, 7 pm at the meeting room next to the police station

The tentative hunting regulations packet is available for review at FWP offices, and comments will be taken at public meetings, by email at [email protected] or by mail addressed to: Big Game Regulations, Wildlife Division, Montana FWP, P.O. Box 200701; Helena, MT 59620-0701. Comments must be received by Jan. 21, 2006. For information contact the FWP Missoula office at 406-542-5500.