Friday, December 19, 1997At its December 12 meeting, the Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission adopted tentative 1998-99 biennial seasons, regulations and quotas for moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, antelope, mountain lions and black bears, as well as tentative general season regulations and quotas for elk and deer in 1998.
The Commission also adopted tentative seasons, regulations and quotas for upland game birds and wild turkey for the 1998-99 biennium.
Among the proposed season changes and regulations are:
- hunting regulations in the southwestern portions of the state will be more liberal to allow for a greater reduction in elk populations.
- the number of hunting districts in northwestern Montana limited to brow-tined only bull elk hunting would increase.
- Mule deer seasons changes will generally be more restrictive in response to low populations.
- the validation requirement for hunting mule deer bucks in southwestern Montana would be handled through the annual permit drawings process.
- A deer management policy also was tentatively adopted by the Commission. Copies of the policy will be available at all FWP offices in early January.
- licenses sold after the start of the spring season on April 15 would be valid only for hunting in the fall, and a separate tag to be placed on the hide of all harvested bears is proposed. These steps are designed to reduce incidental harvest of young bears and reduce the number of illegally taken bears, as well as to improve the accuracy of data collected on harvested bears.
- A statewide general fall season, like the experimental one held during 1997 in Region 1, is proposed. The season would begin on September 15 and run through the end of the general big game season. All hunters with lion licenses would have to wear hunter orange while they were hunting lions. Quotas for lions are set later in the year.
- The season structure for mountain lions would be changed from separate hunt and chase seasons to a single season of the same length in which the chase season would commence once the hunt quota was reached in a district.
Other Tentative Regulations:
The Commission also is seeking comments on proposals concerning:
- Two-Way Communications: It would be unlawful to use any type of two-way electronic communication to aid in the pursuit or taking of game or to facilitate illegal hunting activity.
- Airplane Spotting: It would be unlawful to hunt big game or help someone else take big game on the same day he or she has been airborne. This rule would not apply to regularly scheduled flights between cities.
- Use of technology: A prohibition is proposed on electronic illuminated hand gun and rifle scopes and the use of night vision optics for hunting game.
- Hunter Orange: Hunter orange clothing would be required for all upland game bird hunting, except for turkey and doves. This regulation was proposed for hunter safety reasons.
Complete copies of tentative regulations can be obtained by writing to the Wildlife Division, Fish, Wildlife & Parks, P.O. 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701. Comments on the tentative should be submitted to the same address by January 24, 1998. Additional opportunities to comment will be available through public meetings in January.
The FWP Commission intends to set final 1998-99 regulations at its February 5-6 meeting in Helena.