The Montana Wildlife Federation is hosting a series of hunter roundtables throughout the state in the coming weeks to focus on the current state of elk management in Montana.
MWF, our affiliate organizations and sportsmen groups around the state have become increasingly concerned with the use of elk performance-based “shoulder seasons” throughout many parts of the state. Hunters are concerned about the effects the seasons have on elk presence on public lands, elk behavior and the future of our sporting opportunities.
Shoulder seasons are rifle hunts that occur outside of the general five-week seasons in late October and November, and most run from Aug. 15 to Feb. 15. They were meant as a temporary tool to address elk herds that are over the targeted objective population, as well as to push elk off of private lands.
The shoulder seasons are guided by performance criteria that include getting at least half of the harvest of newly recruited elk during the general season to ensure a strong harvest at that time of year. They are also supposed to be for districts where the elk population is well over objective. Shoulder seasons were proposed for three years on a pilot basis and are undergoing a review to ensure they’re meeting the criteria.
But in several districts in western Montana’s Region 2, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is proposing to extend the seasons in areas where the elk herds are at or under the objective population.
MWF Conservation Director Nick Gevock will be reviewing how the shoulder seasons were implemented, the proposal before the Fish and Wildlife Commission for future seasons and the need for changes to the statewide elk management plan. The presentation will include ample opportunity for comments and discussion from hunters.
The roundtables will be held in conjunction with local sportsmen and sportswomen organizations. The current schedule is as follows:
Butte: Tuesday, Aug. 13, 6:30 p.m. in the gazebo at Stodden Park, just off Utah Avenue next to the Highland View Golf Course. The roundtable will be held in conjunction with the Skyline Sportsmen Association and the Anaconda Sportsmen’s Club and will include dinner.
Missoula: Wednesday, Aug. 14, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Goodworks Ventures, 129 W. Alder St. in downtown Missoula. The roundtable is being held with MWF affiliate Hellgate Hunters and Anglers.