Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks Headlines
December 19, 2018
FWP seeks comment on three wildlife proposals
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is seeking public review and comment on the following proposals: 2019 elk shoulder seasons, 2019-2020 Biennial Wildlife Management Area Public Use Rules and 2019 mule deer season changes in some districts in Region 5.
2019 elk shoulder seasons: FWP proposes to maintain the current season structure in all districts with performance-based shoulder seasons, including early and late seasons for the 2019 license year. This means the shoulder seasons would run until February 2020, to allow for a more comprehensive three-year evaluation of season performance in late summer or early fall 2019. The Fish & Wildlife Commission will make a final decision on elk shoulder seasons for 2019 at its February meeting.
2019-2020 Biennial WMA Public Use Rules: Public use rules for Wildlife Management Areas, Wildlife Habitat Protection Areas and Fish Conservation Areas are adopted by the commission on a biennial schedule. FWP recommended the commission retain the existing rules with one addition. A copy of the proposed rules with red underlined edits is included on the FWP website. The new rule pertains to camping on the Beartooth WMA, restricting camping to designated areas, and prohibiting camping on the Whitetail Prairie addition of the WMA. This new rule is intended to help manage camping activities, reduce user conflicts for some portions of the WMA and minimize resource impacts/habitat disturbances.
2019 mule deer season changes in HDs 502, 510, 520 and 575: FWP proposes to change the 2019 mule deer hunting regulations in HDs 502, 510, 520 and 575 to address Chronic Wasting Disease, which was found in these HDs in late 2017 and early 2018. FWP is proposing this change outside of the regular biennial cycle because of CWD. Long-term CWD management, as described in the “Montana CWD Management Plan,” is aimed at maintaining low densities of deer and low buck:doe ratios in hunting districts with CWD and adjacent hunting districts to keep disease prevalence low and prevent disease spread. We are proposing to manage for lower buck:doe ratios because bucks are two to three times more likely to be infected with CWD and more likely to spread it through the population.
Specific changes proposed are:
• HD 502 change the general mule deer season from buck-only to either-sex.
• HD 510 eliminate the unlimited 510-50 buck mule deer permit and establish an either-sex mule deer season.
• HD 520 change the general mule deer season from buck only to either-sex in that portion of HD 520 lying east of Highway 212.
• HD 575 increase 575-00 antlerless mule deer B license from 250 to 500 and increase the biennial range from 5-200 to 5-750. This proposal is outside the current biennial range and requires commission action.