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FWP urges hunters to check fire status, make safety a priority

Hunting

Tue Aug 22 16:36:29 MDT 2017

With many parts of Montana suffering from emergency drought and wildfires, hunters and other recreationists taking to the field must be aware of local fire restrictions and take precautions.

Montana archery hunters will be hunting now with their 900 series antelope hunting licenses. Montana's archery-only hunting season for deer, elk, antelope, black bear, wolf and mountain lion begins Sept. 2. Most upland game bird seasons open Sept. 1. The bighorn sheep archery season begins Sept. 2.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks urges hunters to check in with the regional FWP offices or online about potential closures before making final plans.

Hunters should:

  • Drive only on established roads.
  • Avoid roads with tall vegetation in the middle track.
  • Never park over dry grass and other vegetation.
  • Carry a fire extinguisher—or water-filled weed sprayer—shovel, axe, and, a cell phone for emergency calls.
  • Restrict camping activities to designated camping areas.
  • Build campfires only in established metal fire rings, if allowed.
  • Smoke only inside buildings or vehicles.
  • Check on any fire restrictions in place.

When it comes to site-specific fire restrictions, FWP follows the lead of the county where the site is located. Currently most counties in Montana are under either Stage 1 or Stage 2 fire restrictions.

Stage 1 restrictions ban campfires except where specifically exempted, allow cooking fires on propane devices that can be shut off and smoking only in vehicles and areas three feet in diameter that are cleared of flammable materials. 

Stage 2 restrictions start with regulations delineated by Stage 1 restrictions. In addition, Stage 2 restrictions ban welding, explosives, driving off established roads and use of internal-combustion engines, except for vehicles on established roads, between 1 p.m. and 1 a.m. each day. Generators used in enclosed buildings or in an area cleared of vegetation specifically are exempted from Stage 2 restrictions.

The restrictions are in response to dry, warm weather that could increase the danger of human-caused wildfires. They will be in effect until further notice.

FWP sites that could be impacted fire restrictions include fishing access sites, wildlife management areas and state parks.

Private landowners along with land enrolled in Block Management or other private land access programs may also have restrictions or closures. Be sure to ask when securing permission.

For up-to-date details on fire and drought-related restrictions and closures, visit FWP's website at fwp.mt.gov. Click Restrictions & Closures.

Always be prepared to prevent or extinguish fire starts. Your assistance during this time will be appreciated.