Thursday, May 29, 2014
The Montana Fish & Wildlife Commission is seeking comment though June 23 on some upcoming hunting seasons and additional proposals related to sage grouse and wolves.
For sage grouse, the commission is seeking comment on a proposal that would either maintain the same 60-day season and two-bird daily bag and four bird possession limit as last season; adopt shorter seasons and reduced bag and possession limits; impose region-specific hunting opportunities or closures; or close the sage grouse hunting season statewide.
The sage grouse proposal comes in response to surveys on sage grouse breeding grounds called "leks" that show a continued population decline of the state's largest native upland game bird. Montana's 2004 management plan identifies a season closure when lek counts are significantly reduced from historical observations.
The commission also seeks comment on the following wolf-related proposals:
- the 2014-15 wolf season, which includes adjustments that would close the hunting and trapping season in Wolf Management Units 313 and 316 within 12 hours of the harvests quotas there being reached. These WMUs border Yellowstone National Park. The proposal also includes reducing the harvest quota in WMU 313 from four to three wolves.
- to offer the opportunity to trap wolves via a drawing on three western Montana wildlife management areas, including the Blackfoot-Clearwater, Fish Creek and Mount Haggin WMAs.
- a statewide annual quota of 100 wolves taken under a new state law that provides for landowners to take wolves without a license that are a potential threat to human safety, livestock or pets.
A policy directing FWP to conduct rulemaking to define a voluntary wolf management stamp or decal was adopted. The rule will define how donated funds submitted for a stamp would be allocated to specific wolf management efforts. Public comment opportunities for the wolf management stamp rule will be announced soon.
Other wildlife related proposals open for comment include: additional upcoming upland game bird hunting season and limits, which are unchanged from last year; a new work plan for nongame conservation funded by income tax check-off contributions; two hunting access agreements; and a two year cooperative management area agreement for access to Avista Corporation property in Sanders County.
While online comments are preferred, written comments can be mailed to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks; Attn: Wildlife Public Comments; P.O. Box 200701; Helena, MT 59620-0701.