Montana FWP seeks comments on proposed ‘shoulder’ seasons for elk hunting | TSLN.com

Montana FWP seeks comments on proposed ‘shoulder’ seasons for elk hunting

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (FWP) is seeking public comment on a proposal to implement 'shoulder' seasons for elk hunting in Montana.

During the 2015 Legislative Session, Senator Doug Kary of Billings introduced SB 245. SB 245 would have created a late-season, antlerless elk hunt for hunters in Montana. Montana Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) supported this bill but it was ultimately vetoed by Governor Bullock. The current FWP proposal is another attempt to accomplish what SB 245 started.

A 'shoulder season' is defined as any firearm season printed in the hunting regulations that occur outside the 5-week general firearm season between Aug. 15 and Feb. 15 in one or more Hunting Districts or portion(s) thereof. Shoulder season could be early and/or late seasons and may include antlered and/or antlerless options.

Elk herds across Montana are overpopulated and many farmers and ranchers are faced with increasing levels of property damage and income loss from supporting these large herds. Shoulder seasons would provide an effective mechanism for landowners to proactively control herd sizes and to increase successful hunting opportunities for sportsmen.

A key frustration for many landowners is that elk herds adapt to hunting pressure by moving off their property during the regular hunting season but are present before or soon after hunting season ends. Montana Farm Bureau President Bob Hanson said, "These proposed hunts are a win-win for everyone. Farmers and ranchers willingly provide feed and habitat for our state's wildlife but our elk herds are growing rapidly and it creates a huge problem."

The White Sulphur Spring rancher added, "A shoulder season would directly address the issue of elk being present before and after the regular season and consequently, provides more hunting for sportsmen everywhere."

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FWP is accepting public comment on the proposal until Friday, Aug. 28 at 5 p.m. To submit comments visit http://www.fwp.mt.gov. MFBF is encouraging members and the public to submit comments in support of this proactive elk management tool. For more information, visit http://www.mfbf.org or call 406-587-3153.

–Montana Farm Bureau

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