Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking public comment on the tentative 2005 big game hunting regulations, season dates and on hunting district boundary changes for the elk, deer, antelope, bighorn sheep and turkey seasons.
According to wildlife managers, the proposed elk season changes would help align seasons and quotas with the newly approved statewide elk management plan, creating some increased opportunities--especially for youth--and more restrictive regulations in a few hunting districts.
Hunting district boundary changes in the eastern part of the state in FWP Region 6 are being recommended to improve antelope hunting opportunities and to simplify the regulations.
Here is a summary of some of the proposed changes for 2005:
* In hunting district 313-00 near Gardiner the quota for late hunt antlerless elk permits would be reduced from 1,100 to 100. The Northern Yellowstone elk population has been declining since 1994 . A reduction is also proposed in this district for either-sex permits, from 80 to 48.
* In FWP Region 3, in southwestern Montana, increased spike bull and antlerless elk hunting opportunities are proposed for youths ages 12-14 in hunting districts 339 and 380. In FWP Region 4, a general season youth hunt for antlerless elk is proposed in north central Montana in hunting districts 401, 403, 410, 411, 412, 417, 426, 441, and 450.
* In FWP Region 7, in southeastern Montana, in hunting districts 702, 704 and 705, a general antlerless elk season is proposed encompassing the Custer elk management unit, including the portion of the unit in the Custer National Forest. The elk population here is above the elk management plan objective.
* South of Butte in hunting districts 320, 322, 325, 326, 330 and 333 an either-sex mule deer season for a portion of the general season is proposed. The buck/doe ratios in these hunting districts exceed objectives set in FWP’s adaptive harvest management plan for mule deer.
* In FWP Region 5, in hunting districts 500, 570, 575, 580 and 590, the either-sex hunting season would change to a more restrictive antlered buck only season. In addition, the general antlerless mule deer hunting in hunting district 530 would be eliminated and antlerless deer hunting would be permited on "B" licenses only.
* In FWP Region 6, in northeastern Montana, some antelope hunting districts would be consolidated. The proposed change will simplify the antelope regulations and increase opportunities for antelope hunters. Hunting districts that would consolidate are:
* Hunting district 600 and a portion of hunting district 610 would become a new hunting district 600.
* Hunting district 640 would combine with hunting district 670 to become a new hunting district 670.
* Hunting district 651 would combine with hunting district 650 to become a new hunting district 650.
* Hunting district 610, south of U.S. Highway 2, would combine with hunting district 690 to form a new hunting district 690.
* In hunting distirct 300-20, south of Bozeman and north of Yellowstone National Park, a standard Sept 1-10 season is proposed.
* Hunting district 315 near Dillon, and 455 east of Holter Lake would reopen in 2005.
* Tenative bison hunting season dates for fall of 2005 would be November 15, 2005—February 15, 2006.
* The proposed spring turkey season would be extended an additional week to end May 15, 2005. Montana’s spring turkey season would close on the same date spring turkey season closes in Wyoming and South Dakota. This proposed change increases hunter opportunity with minimal biological impact.
A full text of all proposed changes is available on the FWP web site at fwp.state.mt.us on the Hunting Page under Hot Topics.
The comment period extends from Dec. 23, 2004—January 24, 2005.Comments may be made by attending one of the regional public meetings scheduled around the state beginning in early January, or by submitting written comments to: Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, Wildlife Division, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701 or by email to: email@example.com.