Spotted Dog Grazing Plan, Madison River Rules Top Agenda for Fish and Wildlife Commission

A proposal to enter a six-year agreement with the McQueary Ranch to graze cattle on the Spotted Dog Wildlife Management Area is among the items on the Fish and Wildlife Commission agenda this week.

The proposal would allow the ranch to graze up to 240 Animal Unit Months (AUMs) on 2,800 acres of Spotted Dog, on a rest-rotation basis. The cattle grazing would take place June-July. FWP says in its proposal that the grazing would take place above elk winter range, and could enhance forage for wildlife in the spring.

McQueary Ranch would rest more than 1,400 acres of its 2,100-acre pasture system and make it available for elk in winter. The proposal has drawn a lot of interest from hunting groups around Spotted Dog as well as statewide sporting organizations.

Also on the agenda are a continuation of the grazing leases for the Blackfoot-Clearwater, Ear Mountain, Rob Ledford, and Fleecer wildlife management areas; a forestry project on the Three Mile WMA; and renewal of the haying lease on the Big Lake WMA.

In addition to the discussion of WMA management, the Commission will get an update on the Madison Negotiated Rulemaking Committee. The group has been meeting to address crowding on the Madison River in an attempt to come up with rules to address the issue.

The Commission will also consider quotas for mountain lions for the upcoming year, a plan to reintroduce sharp-tailed grouse to areas west of the Continental Divide, hunting seasons for partridge, pheasants, and waterfowl, and will finalize the statewide Fisheries Management Program and Guide.

As always, MWF staff and volunteers will attend the meeting to make our voice heard on key issues.

The meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. April 25, at FWP headquarters, 1420 E. Sixth Ave. in Helena. The full agenda and cover sheets for each item are available. 

Nick Gevock

Conservation Director