Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials will be considering some adjustments to permit numbers, harvest quotas and regulations for next fall's hunting seasons based on the record amounts of snowfall portions of Montana received over the winter, lingering cold and snow this spring, and reports of numbers of winterkilled game animals in certain parts of the state.
Glenn Erickson, chief of the Wildlife Management Bureau for FWP in Helena, said state wildlife managers will be convening next week to analyze winter losses of game animals in the different regions of Montana, discuss potential remedial measures and possible impacts on next fall's hunting seasons. Remedial actions that may be considered include reductions in proposed harvest quotas and, possibly, season lengths.
We know we have experienced some high levels of loss, particularly among mule deer, white-tailed deer and antelope populations, in certain areas of the state," Erickson said, and since our primary concern following a rough winter like we have just had is for the health and welfare of our wildlife populations, we'll be taking a good, hard look at those populations and proposing adjustments where they are deemed merited."
Erickson noted that the recorded snow depths and extended winter conditions in some portions of Montana are unprecedented and FWP wildlife officials expect remedial measures will be called for in some hunting areas. We also realize the potential implications of altering regulations and appreciate the effects they may have on some people's plans for next fall," he said.
Regulations and tentative quotas for the 1997 big game season were set by the FWP Commission last fall. Erickson said the state wildlife agency will propose any adjustments in regulations to commissioners at their May 2 meeting in Dillon.
FWP will notify hunters of any changes prior to the allocation of special licenses and permits through FWP's annual drawings in August, as well as before the opening of hunting seasons next fall.