A proposed rule limiting the number of nonresident upland game bird licenses sold in Montana will be discussed in a series of public meetings in February and March, according to Don Childress, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Wildlife Division administrator.
In December, the FWP Commission agreed to initiate rulemaking that would limit the number of over-the-counter nonresident upland game bird licenses sold each year to 11,000 beginning in 2002. The number of nonresident bird hunters has nearly doubled in the past 15 years from 5,884 in 1984 to 10,969 in 1999.
"The Commission is looking at staying ahead of the curve in preserving this resource, while providing equitable hunting opportunities for Montana residents," Childress said. "This proposed rule, by defining the upper limit for future sales, is one step toward managing the growth were seeing."
Resident hunters surveyed by FWP in 2000 expressed concern about the increasing numbers of nonresident bird hunters and a general decrease in access to private land. Two-thirds of the resident hunters surveyed felt access to private land had decreased over the past five years.
The Montana Legislature upped the cost of the nonresident license to $110 beginning last season, which may have contributed to reduced sales by more than 20 percent in 2000. It is unclear what role other factors, such as the publicized fire closures, may have played.
For a copy of the proposed rule, visit the FWP web site at: fwp.state.mt.us under "Notices" and select "Legal Notices," or call the Wildlife Division at 406-444-2612. Public input will be taken at the meetings. Also, written comments may be submitted to Don Childress, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 1420 East 6th Ave., P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT, 59620-0701, or by email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Public input must be received by March 18.
Public meetings will be held as follows:
February 20, 2001, 7:00 p.m. Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Region 1 Headquarters 490 North Meridian Road Kalispell, Montana
February 20, 2001, 7:00 p.m. Cottonwood Inn U.S. Highway 2 East Glasgow, Montana
February 21, 2001, 7:00 p.m. Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Region 7 Headquarters Industrial Site West (W) Miles City, Montana
February 22, 2001, 7:00 p.m. Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Region 5 Headquarters 2300 Lake Elmo Drive Billings, Montana
March 6, 2001, 7:00 p.m. Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Region 3 Headquarters 1400 South 19th Bozeman, Montana
March 7, 2001, 7:00 p.m. Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Region 2 Headquarters 3201 Spurgin Road Missoula, Montana
March 8, 2001, 7:00 p.m. Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Region 4 Headquarters 4600 Giant Springs Road Great Falls, Montana