The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission is now accepting public comments on proposals to reduce permit numbers and institute other regulation changes that would affect overall hunting opportunities for mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk and antelope in various parts of Montana this coming fall.
The Commission adopted the tentative changes at its May 2 meeting in Dillon in response to wildlife losses associated with the severity of the past winter in some areas of the state.
Among the tentatives on which commissioners now are seeking public comment are proposals:
1) to reduce numbers of deer B licenses for mule deer and white-tailed deer available through the annual drawings;
2) to restrict all hunting of mule deer bucks in southwestern Montana during 1997 to those with four-point or larger antlers;
3) to reduce over-the-counter sales of licenses for antlerless white-tailed deer;
4) to move the either-sex white-tailed deer portion of the 1997 general hunting season in Region 1 from the last week of the season to the first week of the season.
Don Childress, administrator of the Wildlife Division for FWP in Helena, said the proposed reductions are in direct response to the unprecedented winter weather many areas of the state experienced over the last few months and that they should not be viewed as setting a precedent for any management decisions in the future.
"When situations like this are encountered, he explained, "our number one objective has to be to take care of the resource--in this case our deer populations. While we realize that the changes being proposed may cause some inconvenience for hunters, we must for the health of the animals affected do what is best for them in the long run.
Childress said the state wildlife agency is doing its best to inform hunters of the proposed changes in a timely manner to minimize frustration and confusion at a later date. He noted that wildlife officials specifically want to make sure hunters are aware of likely license reductions and expected season changes before they apply for licenses and permits through the annual special license and permit drawings. This year, the application deadline for that drawing is June 2.
Complete copies of the proposals are available from the Wildlife Division, 1420 E. 6th Ave., PO Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701, as well as from regional FWP offices. Comments on the proposals will be accepted through May 27 by the Wildlife Division at the above address.
The FWP Commission is scheduled to take final action on the proposals on May 30 in Helena.