In an attempt to help populations of deer recover in areas where the winter of 1996-97 caused unexpectedly high population losses, the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission on May 30 adopted the following changes to the general deer hunting season in 1997:
Either-Sex Whitetail Hunting Periods
Change: Hunting for either-sex whitetails in most of the region now will be allowed only during the first week of the 1997 season (Oct. 26-Nov. 2). Hunting under general regulations during the remainder of the season will be for antlered bucks of either species only. Hunting districts affected: all districts beginning with the numeral 1, except backcountry hunting districts 150, 151 and 170. See pages 19-21 of 1997 Big Game Hunting Regulations. Contact: Kalispell FWP--752-5501.
Libby Special Management Area
Change: Over-the-counter licenses for taking antlerless whitetails will not be sold. Hunting districts affected: 100 and 103. See page 19 of 1997 Big Game Hunting Regulations. Contact: Kalispell FWP--752-5501.
Antlerless Whitetails in HD 132
Change: The Sept. 6 - Nov. 30 antlerless whitetail season for holders of Deer A and Deer B licenses in the foothill portion of HD 132 will not be held. Hunting districts affected: 132. See page 21 of 1997 Big Game Hunting Regulations. Contact: Kalispell FWP--752-5501.
Antlerless Whitetails in HD 170
Change: The number of B licenses that can be purchased by an individual from the Kalispell FWP R-1 Headquarters for antlerless whitetails in HD 170 has been reduced from two (2) licenses to one (1) license. Hunting districts affected: 170. See page 21 of 1997 Big Game Hunting Regulations. Contact: Kalispell FWP--752-5501.
REGIONS 6 AND 7
Multi-district Antlerless Whitetail Licenses
Change: Over-the-counter multi-district antlerless whitetail licenses will not be sold. Hunting districts affected: 600, 630, 640, 641, 650, 651, 652, 670, 690 and 703. See page 16 of 1997 Big Game Hunting Regulations. Contact: Glasgow FWP--228-3700; Miles City FWP--232-0900.
All these changes were adopted as tentative regulations by the FWP Commission at its May 2 meeting in Dillon. Commissioners accepted public comment on the proposals through May 27.
The only tentative change not adopted was a proposal to implement a four-point or more mule deer buck restriction on deer hunters in those portions of southwestern Montana--all of Region 2 and the majority of Region 3, collectively known as the "Southwestern 8"--where licenses must be validated to hunt mule deer bucks in 1997. The validation requirement and an intensive information/education campaign among FWP, sportsman's clubs and hunters now will be the primary vehicles employed to help reduce overall harvest of mule deer bucks in this area of Montana.