Friday, February 13, 1998The Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission on February 6 set seasons and regulations for moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, antelope, black bears and upland game birds for the 1998-99 biennium. Commissioners also set seasons and regulations for deer, elk and mountain lion hunting during 1998.
In setting seasons and regulations, the Commission, among other actions, adopted these changes for the following species:
- Hunting regulations in the southwestern portions of the state will be more liberal. In many hunting districts within FWP administrative Region 3 (incorporating the 300 series of hunting districts), special elk permits offered through the annual license and permit drawings will be valid for taking either-sex elk, or for brow-tined or antlerless elk, rather than for antlerless-only elk as in the recent past. In some hunting districts, special permit holders will be provided an opportunity to hunt antlerless elk just prior to or immediately after the general hunting season.
- All bull elk hunting in northwestern Montana, with the exception of Hunting District 170, will be for brow-tined bulls only.
- The validation requirement for hunting mule deer bucks in southwestern Montana will be continued.
- Mule deer buck hunting will be by permit only in 13 hunting districts--H.D.s 202, 210, 261, 270, 291, 300, a portion of 312, 324, 441, 455, 510, 530 and 652. Hunters must apply for these special permits through the annual special license and permit drawings.
- During the early archery-only season, mule deer harvest will be restricted to antlered bucks in those areas of Montana where similar restrictions have been imposed for harvest of mule deer bucks during the general season.
- In Regions 1 and 2 of northwestern Montana, 200 permits for hunting antlerless white-tailed deer will be offered to youngsters 12 to 14 years of age.
- Antlerless white-tailed deer "B" licenses will continue to be offered in Regions 3, 4, 6 and 7, but in Region 7 of eastern Montana, nonresident hunters will be limited to 1,000 such "B" licenses.
- A five-week season for hunting mule deer bucks will be in place in the majority of the Missouri River Breaks, as well as along the Rocky Mountain East Front.
- A deer management policy, as well as deer objectives and hunting regulation strategies, also was adopted by the Commission. The objectives and hunting regulation strategies will form the first phase of an overall adaptive harvest management plan. Given the data requirements and monitoring needed, the plan will not be fully operational for another year or two. Copies of the final policy and objectives will be available at all FWP offices later this winter.
- Licenses to be used for hunting black bears during Montana's 1998 spring season must be purchased by April 14 (before the start of the season on April 15); licenses purchased after that date may be used only to hunt bears during the 1998 fall season. In addition, no 1998 black bear licenses will be sold after August 31 (the 1998 fall season begins on September 15 in most hunting districts).
- FWP personnel will place a separate tag on the hide of all harvested black bears when the bears are presented, as required by law, for inspection by FWP officials. To date, the hunter's validated harvest tag has been mandated to remain with the bear's meat, but no tagging of the hide was required.
- The experimental fall hunting season (during which dogs could not be used) held in Region 1 during 1997 will be continued in 1998. The winter hunting season, during which dogs may be used to pursue lions, will be extended through April 14. Chasing of lions will continue to be allowed as in previous years.
Other Regulation Changes:
- Two-Way Communications: It will be unlawful to use any type of two-way electronic communication to aid in the hunting (meaning to "pursue, shoot, wound, kill, chase, lure, possess or capture") of big game animals, to avoid game checking stations, to elude FWP enforcement personnel or to facilitate unlawful activity. When hunting mountain lions or bobcats with dogs, this rule applies when hounds are placed on tracks in a district open to lion or bobcat harvest. This rule shall not be interpreted to prohibit the possession or use of two-way radios for safety or other legitimate purposes, nor does it prohibit the use of radio tracking equipment to locate hounds when hunting mountain lions or bobcats.
- Airplane Spotting: It will be unlawful to locate or take big game animals, or to provide information to help someone else locate or take big game, on the same day a person has been airborne.
- Night Vision: The use of night vision optics for locating or hunting game will be prohibited.