Once again this year, hunters hoping to set their sights this fall on sandhill cranes in the Sweet Grass and Wheatland counties portion of the Central Flyway, as well as in three areas of western Montana, must enter a drawing for permits.
A total of 30 permits will be available to hunt from September 12_20, 1998, in Sweet Grass and Wheatland counties.
In western Montana, tentative quotas of 65 sandhill crane permits for hunting in the Madison-Beaverhead hunting area near Twin Bridges and Dillon, 15 for hunting cranes in the Warm Springs area of Deer Lodge County and 15 for hunting in the Ovando-Helmville area of Powell County have been set. Hunting in these areas will take place on two consecutive weekends, September 12-13 and September 19-20.
Hunters interested in pursing cranes in these areas of western Montana, as well as in the Sweet Grass-Wheatland area, must apply in writing to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, attn: Special Licensing, 1420 E. 6th Ave., PO BOX 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701 by 5 p.m. on July 1.
Applicants must include their printed name and their signature, their address, their 1998 Conservation License number, a $3 nonrefundable drawing fee and an indication of the hunting area for which they seek a permit: the Madison-Beaverhead area, the Warm Springs area, the Ovando-Helmville area or the Sweet Grass-Wheatland area. Applicants may apply for a permit in only one area and hunters will be limited to taking one (1) crane in any area during the upcoming season.
As in previous years, hunters will continue to have the opportunity this fall to hunt sandhill cranes in the Central Flyway portion of Montana (other than in Sweet Grass and Wheatland counties) simply by stopping into FWP offices in Billings, Glasgow, Miles City or Helena in late August and picking up a free permit. Permits also will be available at the Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge just east of Malta and the Medicine Lakes National Wildlife Refuge south of Plentywood.
A Montana Migratory Bird Stamp is required to hunt sandhill cranes and all hunters wanting to purchase these stamps this year will be required to complete a national migratory bird hunter survey form before they can obtain their stamps.