Sixteen hunting groups from throughout Montana recently sent a letter to the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission requesting that state biologists stick with the agreement when elk shoulder seasons were created and evaluate how they’re working.
The groups included general wildlife groups, local sporting clubs, and archery hunting organizations. They expressed deep concern with elk shoulder seasons, which last half the year, in areas where elk populations are struggling. The groups also asked Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to abide by the performance criteria laid out when shoulder seasons were created and make sure they don’t replace the harvest during the general five-week rifle season. The letter calls for the agency to do a thorough review of the shoulder seasons after three full years of their implementation.
“Four years ago when the Montana Wildlife Federation and other hunting groups agreed to the trial implementation of shoulder seasons we did so on the premise they would be a temporary action to reduce elk numbers to current population objectives and to improve the distribution of elk on the landscape,” the letter states. “Our understanding was that shoulder seasons were not meant to replace the general season harvest. That’s clearly stated in the performance criteria.”
MWF and other groups call for a collaborative group to take a look at the seasons, as well as a potential update to the statewide elk management plan and the population objectives in it.
In addition, MWF will be hosting a series of Hunter Roundtables in Butte and Missoula to help inform hunters about shoulder seasons and future elk management.