Commission to set hunting seasons in busy meeting

The Commission on Thursday will finalize the 2018-2019 hunting seasons for most big game species.

Elk_shutterstock_457334638The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission will set the seasons for hunting for the next two years in a jam-packed agenda that includes a major conservation easement and several fisheries issues.

The Commission on Thursday will finalize the 2018-2019 hunting seasons for most big game species. This includes deer, elk, antelope, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, black bear, mountain lions, wolves and more. The proposals lay out what animals can be legally killed in each district, quota ranges by district, and season dates.

In addition, the Commission will consider adopting an annual review of the elk shoulder seasons, which are rifle seasons that are printed in the hunting regulations that run outside of the general season and can run from Aug. 15 to Feb. 15. Commissioners will also adjust several hunting district boundary adjustments, set quotas for game damage and special Chronic Wasting Disease hunts.

The Horse Creek Complex Conservation Easement is also before the Commission for final approval. This project near Wibaux would protect more than 15,000 acres from development, and open up more than 18,000 acres of habitat – and public hunting opportunity – for mule deer, sage-grouse, antelope, upland birds and waterfowl.  This project is another great example of the work that Habitat Montana does for Montana’s wildlife and hunters.

The Commission will also act on a recommendation to hold off on a grizzly bear hunt this year.  They will consider a letter reaffirming their support the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act, a bill currently before Congress that would provide $1.3 billion nationwide to state wildlife agencies, including $29 billion to Montana FWP, to help conserve at-risk wildlife and preempt listings under the Endangered Species Act.

As at every Commission meeting, Montana Wildlife Federation staff will attend the meeting to track the discussion and comment on key issues. MWF volunteers will also be on hand at regional offices to offer public comments.

The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 15 at the Montana WILD center, 2668 Broadwater Ave. in Helena. The public can also go to any of the seven Montana FWP Regional headquarters to make comments.

The public can also listen in by going to www.fwp.mt.gov.