BILLINGS — Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will hold six meetings in south central Montana in January to gather comments on proposed hunting seasons and rules for the next two years.
Every two years FWP considers changes to all hunting seasons, proposes changes from the previous biennium and encourages public comment before the FWP commission makes its final decisions in February. Meetings and hearings are held in every region of the state to listen to comments. FWP and its commissioners also will accept written, online or emailed comments through Jan. 22.
In south central Montana, all public meetings are scheduled for 7 p.m. They are set for:
- Tuesday, Jan. 5 at the Roundup Ambulance Barn.
- Thursday, Jan. 7 at the Big Timber Public Library.
- Tuesday, Jan. 12 at the Red Lodge Middle School cafeteria.
- Wednesday, Jan. 13 at the Columbus High School cafeteria.
- Thursday, Jan. 14 at the Harlowton Kiwanis Youth Center.
- Wednesday, Jan. 20 at the Holiday Inn in Billings.
The tentative rules were approved by the FWP commission in December and include changes to both statewide regulations and individual hunting districts. The commission will consider proposals by wildlife managers and all public comments before making final changes at its February meeting in Helena.
Statewide, the tentative changes include requiring a person to hold a bow-and-arrow license before entering drawings for archery-only deer, elk or antelope permits or licenses – such as the popular Breaks archery permits or antelope archery-only licenses. Montana hunters must meet specific qualifications and buy a bow-and-arrow license before hunting in archery-only areas and seasons. But they currently can enter drawings for archery-only licenses and permits before meeting qualifications and buying a bow-and-arrow license. If they draw a permit or license, they must buy the bow-and-arrow license before they can hunt. Under the proposed rule change, hunters would have to meet requirements and buy a bow-and-arrow license before applying for special archery-only permits.
In south central Montana, wildlife managers are proposing elk “shoulder” seasons for most hunting districts. The seasons would start Aug. 15 and allow people to hunt for antlerless elk on private land only until the opening of general seasons. Shoulder seasons would resume the day after the general season closes and continue through Feb. 15 for antlerless elk on private land.
For mule deer in south central Montana, FWP is proposing an either-sex season for land generally between the Yellowstone and Musselshell rivers east of Harlowton and Big Timber. The rules also would reintroduce a limited number of mule deer “B” tags in most of south central Montana. No “B” tags – which allow people a second, antlerless deer – were issued in much of Montana for the past two years because of concerns about population numbers.
Proposed changes also would establish a sandhill crane permit good in Carbon County.
A form for online comments as well as a detailed list of public meetings and changes proposed throughout Montana are available online at http://fwp.mt.gov and follow the links to “hunting” and under “opportunity for public comment” click on “2016-17 hunting season changes – proposed.”
For other regions and their public meetings schedule, visit http://fwp.mt.gov.
(Report via Montana FWP)