HELENA – Elk hunters interested in how Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks manages elk will get a chance to weigh in on the new draft elk management plan starting today.
The plan will be available on FWP’s website at fwp.mt.gov/aboutfwp/public-comment-opportunities/draft-elk-plan. The public is invited to comment on the plan; deadline for comments is July 31.
“We’re anxious for public input on this new draft plan, particularly on the hunting district objectives and the suite of management tools we have laid out,” said FWP Director Dustin Temple.
The plan was crafted after expansive public outreach last summer and fall when FWP staff met with the public, landowners, hunters and others at nearly 50 meetings around the state.
With the new draft elk plan, FWP aims to balance habitat capacity, landowner tolerance and elk hunter feedback on their desired hunting experience in crafting population goals for each hunting district. Elk goals look at population numbers, as well as bull-to-cow ratios as a way of meeting this balance.
In the past, population sizes have dominated Montana’s elk conversations. This draft plan includes changes to population goals including proposed increases and focuses on populations ranges and other aspects of herd dynamics, like bull-to-cow ratios. Now is the time for stakeholders to let FWP know what they think of this and other details of the draft plan.
“This plan will serve as our guiding document for elk management, and so it’s critical that we hear from hunters, outfitters, landowners and others during this public commenting timeframe,” Temple said.
The plan also lays out a suite of management tools for FWP and the circumstance under which they’d be used depending on population. The idea would be to match elk population status and herd make-up (bull-to-cow ratios) with the prescribed tools to reach goals. For example, hunting districts that have low bull-to-cow ratios, but with populations in objective, might see a leveling out of elk B licenses, but a decrease in either-sex opportunity to increase bull numbers.
To see the draft elk plan, including hunting district specific objectives, please click here. People who would like to comment can do so online at this link.
A draft environmental assessment (EA) for the draft elk plan will be released for public comment in about a week. With the draft EA, the public should look to comment on the environmental impacts of the draft plan.