Hunters interested in obtaining a special permit to hunt sandhill cranes in the Sweet Grass, Wheatland, Meagher and Golden Valley counties portion of the Central Flyway, as well as in four areas of western Montana in the Pacific Flyway, must apply by July 31.
The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission gave tentative approval in July to early migratory game bird seasons, including cranes and will give final approval on Aug. 7. The five limited permit areas for sandhill crane hunting in Montana are:
o Wheatland/Sweet Grass/Meagher/Golden Valley County Area—50 permits (two-crane limit)
o Deer Lodge County Area (Warm Springs)—5 permits
o Ovando/Helmville Area—40 permits (two-crane limit)
o Dillon/Twin Bridges/Cardwell Area—100 permits (two-crane limit)
o Broadwater County area—10 permits
Online applications are available at fwp.mt.gov under "Buy a License" and must be completed by 11:30 p.m. on July 31. Mail-in applications, which can be found on FWP's website on the Hunting page click Licenses and Permits, must be sent to: Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks; License Section; Sandhill Crane Drawing; P.O. Box 8009; Helena MT 59620-8009. The mail-in applications must be received by 5 p.m. on July 31. Applicants must have a 2014 Conservation License to be eligible to apply. The Dillon/Twin Bridges/Cardwell area unit has been expanded to include all of Madison and Gallatin Counties.
To hunt sandhill cranes north and east of I-90 in the Central Flyway outside of the special permit area hunters must obtain a free permit. The hunting season in this area is proposed for Oct. 4-Nov. 30. Permits will be available in August from FWP offices in Billings, Helena, Glasgow, and Miles City, or from the Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge near Malta or Medicine Lake National Wildlife Refuge south of Plentywood. In the Central Flyway, the area south of Interstate 90 will remain closed to crane hunting.
A Montana Migratory Bird license is required to hunt sandhill cranes. Montana residents 12-14, and 62 or older, or holders of a Resident Person with Disability Conservation License need only their conservation license to hunt sandhill cranes.