Montana's Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission is seeking public comment on the tentative 2006 big game hunting season and quota changes for elk, deer, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, antelope, black bear and turkey. Generally, the proposed changes simplify the regulations and help implement a general five-week hunting season for elk and deer.
Here's a summary of proposed changes to the 2006 hunting regulations.
Consolidate most elk hunting opportunities within Montana's traditional five-week long general hunting season to bring the state's growing elk populations in line with management targets. A focus on Montana's traditional five-week general elk hunting season would: (1) better distribute hunters across public and private land to create hunting opportunities and elk harvests where needed; (2) simplify Montana's big game hunting regulations by offering more general season hunting opportunities where elk numbers exceed population targets; (3) eliminate most early and late season hunts; (4) respond to game damage on lands where reasonable public hunting access is provided, with early, late or extended seasons as provided by state law.
In addition to simplified regulations and a general five-week season, other proposals call for increased hunting opportunities for antlerless white-tailed deer in northwestern Montana's Region 1 and in some hunting districts in central Montana's Region 4.
Proposed changes in antelope seasons and quotas are minor. Aug. 15 is the proposed fixed-date archery antelope opener for the 900 series licenses. Other quota and hunting district changes are confined to FWP Region 3 and 5.
A mountain lion permit system in Regions 1 and 2, would replace existing harvest quotas, to better manage competition among mountain lions hunters in western Montana and to help prevent accidental over harvest.
* For moose, some increased hunting opportunities are proposed, and there are minor changes in FWP Region 3 and 5.
* Bighorn sheep hunting district 100 near Libby will reopen with one either-sex license available via a special drawing.
* Mountain goat hunting is proposed to close in hunting districts 222, 261, 270. In hunting districts 132 and 133 the quotas will be reduced by three goats and two goats respectively.
* Eastern Montana black bear hunters will see only minor changes proposed in FWP Region 5, and the creation of a new bear season in FWP Region 7 with an initial quota of two.
* Turkey hunters would see an over-the-counter spring gobbler license in FWP Region 2's Ravalli County.
Details on the tentative big game quota and season changes are available on FWP's 2006 Tentative Regulation Information web page.
FWP will host a series of 42 statewide public meetings beginning in January to discuss the tentative big game hunting regulations. Some of the scheduled meetings are listed below:
FWP will also take comment via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by mail addressed to: Big Game Regulations, Wildlife Division, Montana FWP, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701. Comments must be received by Jan. 21, 2006. For information contact your nearest FWP office.