Montana’s Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) provide for the protection of wildlife habitat and great opportunities for hunting this time of year. In order to manage for these goals, the Fish and Wildlife Commission has implemented important rules for public use on WMAs ranging from seasonal closures, to food storage orders, camping stay limits and more.
While hunters and other recreationists are required to abide by all the rules for public use, here are some of the key rules to remember (starting with the newest):
1) (*NEW) Food Storage – Bear resistant food storage is required on the following WMAs: Mount Haggin, Bear Creek, Canyon Creek, Wall Creek, Blacktail, Robb-Ledford, Gallatin, Fleecer Mountain, and Dome Mountain.
2) (*NEW) Camping – Stays are limited to 16 days in any 30 day period.
3) Winter Closures – Most Region 3 WMAs are closed from Dec. 2 to May 15 at noon each year (exceptions include Canyon Ferry, Lake Helena, Silver Gate, and a portion of Mount Haggin).
4) Hunting & Trapping – Hunting and trapping are allowed unless the WMA is closed for the winter or the season is closed as per Hunting or Trapping Regulations. Trappers must also receive written permission by FWP to trap on WMAs.
5) Vehicle Use – Vehicles are allowed only on designated open roads. Off road travel with a motorized vehicle is prohibited. Snowmobiles are allowed on established roads (except for portions of Mount Haggin which allow cross country snowmobile use).
6) Weed Free Feed – Only pelletized or certified weed free feed can be used on WMAs.
7) Firewood – Cutting down trees and shrubs is prohibited unless specifically authorized by FWP (i.e. Mount Haggin often allows the cutting of standing dead trees by permit when the WMA is open to the public). Downed trees may be used onsite only.
8) Animal Carcasses – Dumping of animal carcasses is prohibited (not including boned-out big game animal remains legally taken on site.
9) Littering – Littering is prohibited (including dumping of sewage waste from trailers, etc.).
For more information on visiting specific WMAs, go to: fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/wma/.
(Report by Montana FWP; Cover photo: fs.usda.gov)