Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has worked for more than a year on rule changes to address confusion with a statute that requires the FWP director’s permission to train dogs within a mile of nesting habitat.
However, the Environmental Quality Council alternatively wants to address the statute itself. FWP has committed to working with EQC on a potential legislative proposal for the 2019 legislative session.
The issue has received attention in the past few years as upland gamebird hunters have complained about large commercial dog-training operations scattering birds on public land. These operations often work with up to 60 dogs with trainers on horseback. This kind of intense activity can have negative impacts on local bird populations, displace gamebirds and decrease hunting opportunities during the season. The proposed rule was developed to address problems with large-scale commercial dog training operations while also providing permission for dog training efforts with small numbers of dogs.
The scheduled public hearings will continue, but rather than taking comment on the proposed rule, FWP staff will take comment from the public on what they would like to see in legislation addressing the problem.
Public hearings will be held at the following locations and times:
- 10, 6 p.m. at FWP headquarters at 1420 E. 6th Ave. Helena
- 10, 6 p.m. at FWP Region 1 headquarters at 490 N. Meridian Rd. Kalispell
- 10, 6 p.m. at FWP Region 2 headquarters at 3201 Spurgin Rd. Missoula
- 10, 6 p.m. at FWP Region 3 headquarters at 1400 S. 19th Ave. Bozeman
Concerned persons may submit their data, views, or arguments in writing to: Enforcement Division, Attn: Mike Lee, Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, Montana, 59620-0701; or e-mail FWPDogTraining@mt.gov, and must be received no later than Oct. 13.