The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission is seeking public comment on tentative 2002 big game hunting seasons and regulations, upland game bird seasons and 2002 and 2003 black bear and spring turkey hunting seasons and quotas.
Comments may be made by attending one of the regional public meetings scheduled around the state, or by submitting written comments to the Wildlife Division, Montana FWP, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701. Written comments on the tentative regulations will be accepted through Feb. 4, 2002.
Here is a brief summary of some regulation changes tentatively adopted by the Commission:
· Establish a "Modified Archer's Permit" for people with a disability to allow them to use archery tackle that accommodates their physical needs.
· Require bow hunters pursuing deer, elk or antelope during the archery season to wear hunter orange clothing in hunting districts, or portions of hunting districts, where there is a concurrent early firearm season for the same species.
· Add several areas of eight-day, either-sex, white-tailed deer hunting during the general season in south-central Montana’s Region 2.
· Increase whitetail deer B and antlerless mule deer licenses in western and southwestern Montana.
· Create an either-sex, either species deer season along the Rocky Mountain Front in central Montana’s Region 4 for the last two weeks of the general hunting season, outside the National Forest boundary and excluding Wildlife Management Areas.
· Reduce antlerless whitetail deer B licenses for portions of eastern and northeastern Montana’s Region 5 and 6 in response a recent EHD disease outbreak.
· Add antlerless elk seasons in portions of eastern Montana's Regions 5 and 7.
· Add an eight-day either sex or brow-tined bull/antlerless elk season in Hunting Districts 314, 315, 317, 311, 360, 361 and 362 in southwestern Montana’s Region 3.
· Add elk permits and A-7 licenses in several areas throughout the state.
· Allow elk permits to be used on private land prior to the general season in some hunting districts where elk move to private land early.
· Combine HDs 621 and 623 and designate it HD 621.
· Allow young license holders, ages 12-14, to hunt antlerless elk in hunting districts with late elk seasons.
· Allow successful applicants for either-sex antelope licenses to purchase additional doe/fawn licenses in FWP Regions 5 and 7, in response to increasing numbers of antelope.
· Increase antlerless licenses in Regions 2, 3,and 5.
· Split HD 319, in the Fleecer/High Rye area, and HD 490, in the East Big Belt/Little Belt Mountains, into two districts.
Big Horn Sheep
· Extend the season in HD 283 to Dec. 1.
· Reopen HD 340 south of Butte.
· Add two new districts: 1) in the Sleeping Giant area north of Helena (HD 381) and 2) in the Elkhorn Mountains (HD 380).
· Increase the number of permits from two to five in HD 460, the Highwood Mountains.
· Create a new season for a portion of the Big Belt Mountains extending from the south boundary of HD 451 in the Gates of the Mountains, to include Mount Edith north of Highway 12. The season may be split, with licenses valid in either the north or south portion of the district, or permits may be valid throughout the entire range, including HD 451.
Upland Game Bird
· Close sage grouse hunting in about 219 square miles of sage grouse habitat north of Lavina in Golden Valley County to study the effect of hunting on sage grouse in central Montana. Information from the study may be used in season setting in similar habitats in the future.
· Remove the boundary that divides Lincoln County into north and south portions and allow spring turkey permits to be used in the entire county.
· Change the Flathead Valley of Region 1 from a limited permit spring season to a general spring hunting season, open to all hunters with a valid spring turkey license.
Copies of the tentative regulations will be available the first week of January at all FWP offices or by writing to the FWP Wildlife Division, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701.