Montana hunters have a lot of information from Fish, Wildlife & Parks to wade through if they want to keep abreast of all the proposed hunting regulation changes. In addition to meetings held across the state this fall to inform hunters, the proposals are also posted online. Fish and Wildlife Commission members have also weighed in with their proposals that have been dribbling out over the past couple of weeks, adding to the volume of information. One thing that stood out to me in reading through some of the suggestions is that mule deer numbers, across the state, are struggling. There are proposals to cut the harvest of antlerless mule deer in Carbon County where populations have dipped. That dive was partly by design, as FWP worked to reduce deer numbers in an attempt to lessen the spread of chronic wasting disease. However, even in central Montana in portions of Region 4, mule deer numbers have dipped significantly enough for the local biologist to propose reductions in mule deer tags. In that region, CWD isn’t prevalent, so the biologist said the decline is possibly a combination of factors, including drought, harsh winters, more elk hunters on the landscape taking a deer when they are out and even bucks competing with fawns for forage. Hunters would be smart to log on to FWP’s website to check out their favorite regions to see what’s up. For more on mule deer and my reporting, check out my story at https://billingsgazette.com/outdoors/montana-proposed-hunting-reg-changes-reflect-declining-mule-deer-populations-fish-wildlife-and-parks/article_7c98ee0e-9081-11ee-ba4c-ab2999d5d49f.html.
Written by Brett French | Outdoors editor | Billings Gazette Communications