The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission adopted final 2000 deer, elk and mountain lion hunting seasons, regulations, and quotas and set hunting seasons and regulations for all other big game, upland game bird, and turkey hunting through 2001.
Here is a brief summary of some of the new regulations adopted by the Commission at its Feb. 4 meeting in Helena:
Archery Equipment Standards
The Commission adopted new archery equipment standards similar to those set by a nationally recognized bow hunting organization. The new regulations require that a compound bow's maximum "let-off" not exceed 80 percent. Also in the new standards, the bow can be no shorter than 28 inches, and a broadhead is also defined.
The Commission adopted definitions of several "trophy" animals, in cooperation with citizens' working group. These definitions use Boone & Crockett Club measurement methods, though the actual measurements are based on Montana records. The definitions apply to all antlered and horned big-game animals.
Restitution ranges between $2,000 and $30,000 for illegally taken trophy animals meeting the new Montana trophy definitions. The 2000 Hunting Regulations will contain details.
Mule Deer Permits
The Commission removed the license-validation requirement for antlered buck mule deer in a portion of southwestern Montana formerly known as the "Southwestern 8." About two-thirds of this area will now be open to any hunter with a general deer license. In the remaining areas, hunters will need to apply by June 1 for a special permit. Permits will be unlimited or limited, depending on what is required in a particular area to meet population objectives. Hunters may check the 2000 Hunting Regulations to determine if an area they want to hunt requires a special permit obtained through a drawing.
Missouri Breaks Archery Permits
Areas with limited or unlimited archery permits in the Missouri Breaks are unchanged. Hunting district 417 was added to the Missouri Breaks area, with an unlimited number of archery permits available. An archery harvest survey will be conducted in the Missouri Breaks area for the 1999 and 2000 hunting season.
Mountain Lion Season
The 2000 mountain lion season will be similar to the 1999 season. The only significant change is that the Commission established special permits, representing 25 percent of the mountain lion harvest quota in each of nine hunting districts in Region 1. Applications for the permits, which limit hunters to the hunting district for which the permit is valid but allow lion hunters to hunt throughout the season, are due by Sept. 17 to the FWP regional office in Kalispell. The remaining 75 percent of the mountain lion harvest quota in each of these nine hunting districts will be filled by hunters with lion licenses. Lion licenses, required whether a hunter has a permit or not, must be purchased by Aug. 31.
Upland Game Bird Season
There is no change in the upland game bird season dates. Pheasant season opens Oct. 7, 2000, the first Saturday in October. The daily bag limit for sage grouse was increased to three; the possession limit was reduced to six.
Big Horn Sheep
A number of changes were made in the big horn sheep regulations, including adjusting permit levels, establishing three new areas and closing one. Hunters should check their 2000 Hunting Regulations for details.
Motion Tracking Devices
Montana law prohibits the use of electronic motion tracking devices while hunting. The Commission adopted specific descriptions of these devices, including but not limited to: remote-operated camera or video devices; seismic devices; electronic trip wires; photo beam or laser devices used to activate tracking or recording equipment; thermal imaging devices and satellite or radio-telemetry tracking devices. A hunter using a dog with a radio-tracking collar is not using a motion-tracking device, according to this regulation. The Commission deleted the tentative proposal to prohibit sound amplification devices.
The 2000 Hunting Regulations will be available beginning in April.