Mule deer numbers in many areas of Montana have seen significant declines in recent years. That prompted Fish and Wildlife Commission vice-chair Pat Tabor to recommend a halt to all hunting of mule deer on public lands in southeastern Montana’s Region 7. Tabor proposed the amendment at the commission’s December meeting. Originally, the reduction in opportunity would have also applied to Block Management Areas, but other commissioners wanted BMA cooperators to allow mule deer doe hunting. Tabor then changed his amendment to allow hunting only on private lands, including those enrolled in the Block Management Program, and the measure passed. Commissioner Jeff Burrows, of Hamilton, questioned why a similar proposal wasn’t needed in northeastern Montana’s Region 6. He said in talks with other hunters, that region was also seeing big declines in mule deer. Scott Thompson, FWP’s wildlife manager for Region 6, said some hunting districts north of Highway 2 actually were overpopulated with mule deer, based on department objectives. Burrows argued any larger groups of deer could be dealt with through game damage or chronic wasting disease hunts that target those populations. In the end, the commissioners agreed and passed a motion similar to the one involving Region 7.
To learn more about the situation, check out my story at https://billingsgazette.com/outdoors/mule-deer-fwp-region-6-region-7-southeastern-montana-hunting-tabor-robinson-lane-burrows-cwd/article_d64de284-ae76-11ee-bdf9-d74bf0512755.html
Written by Brett French | Outdoors editor for Billings Gazette Communications