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FWP, community talk possible hunting changes

 

January 18, 2018



Proposed hunting season changes were discussed last week as Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (FWP) met with community members on Jan. 9 at the Lakeside in Trout Creek to discuss FWP the 2018 and 2019 hunting season regulations.

More than 30 people attended the meeting to discuss the 19 proposals presented for Region 1. Dillon Tabish, FWP Information/Education Program Manager, began with an introduction and outlined the meeting itinerary. Community members that wished to comment on any of the proposals could come to the podium and express their agreement, opposition or any comments within a 3-minute time limit.

Neil Anderson, FWP Wildlife Program Manager for Region 1, and Bruce Sterling, local FWP Wildlife Biologist, led the meeting, answering questions and accepting the comments. Anderson explained each of the proposals before opening it up for discussion. They provided the attendees with a packet that outlined the proposals for Region 1, which includes Sanders, Lake, Lincoln and Flathead counties, and another packet that included proposals for all seven of the hunting regions of Montana. Anderson said that the turnout was double the attendance of the meeting in Kalispell on January 6. Anderson was encouraged by the size of the meeting and felt that it went well.

“These types of meetings are discussion based and rely heavily on this public process, so it is important for sportsmen to attend,” Anderson said.

One of the topics that was addressed was the changing of an antlerless elk B-tag to an antlerless elk permit for the 2018 season. Tim Wanamaker of Noxon took the podium to express his concern about the change and the fact that preference points for his antlerless elk B-tag did not transfer over to the new antlerless elk permit, thus losing his points.

In the past, when hunters applied for the antlerless elk B-tag, they could additionally purchase a preference point to increase their chances for the next season’s drawing. One preference point is equal to three entries. Wanamaker had four preference points equaling 12 entries into the antlerless elk B-tag drawing. When the antlerless elk B-tag changed to an antlerless elk permit, his points were lost.

Currently, there is no way of retrieving those points and using them for the new antlerless elk permit drawing. This means that Wanamaker, along with others, lost their preference points that they had been collecting for years. Wanamaker polled the attendees and a unanimous show of hands supported his concern to find a way to transfer the preference points or refund the money.

Sanders County Commissioner Tony Cox also attended the meeting and thought it went well. Cox appreciated that a meeting was held in Trout Creek so he and other members of the hunting communities could attend and voice their opinions.

Additional public comments can be submitted by mail to: FWP Wildlife Division, Attn: hunting season proposals, PO Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620. The proposed changes are also available for review and comments can be submitted online at fwp.mt.gov/hunting under “Opportunity for Public Comment.”

The deadline to submit comments is 5 p.m. on Jan. 24. The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission will review comments and recommendations and adopt final regulations at its Feb. 15 meeting in Helena.

 

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