Montana’s Fish & Wildlife Commission will meet via a telephone conference call Monday, April 20 at 8:30 a.m. to consider a second emergency closure of a bighorn sheep hunting district for the upcoming fall season.
Commissioners will consider closing hunting district 122 near Plains where the bighorn sheep herd is suspected to be in the midst of a disease-related die-off that resulted in the deaths of more than 90 bighorn sheep since 2012.
Last month the commission closed bighorn sheep hunting district 305, near Gardiner in response to a confirmed pneumonia die-off of 34 sheep.
On April 7, an FWP aerial survey of hunting district 122 found only 18 sheep where 112 were documented in 2012.
In response, officials are seeking to close the 2015 bighorn sheep season in hunting district 122 this year and preclude hunters from applying for licenses in the hunting district. For the upcoming season, officials were to offer six either-sex and four ewe licenses in the district. Should the season there be closed, anyone who applied for hunting district 122’s licenses will be offered the opportunity to apply elsewhere or given a refund.
Last year nearly 900 hunters applied for the district’s 10 licenses. So far, about 100 hunters have applied to hunt there in 2015. The deadline to apply for moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, and bison licenses is May 1.
Hunting district 122 would reopen to hunting when the population recovers.
The teleconference will originate at FWP Helena headquarters, 1420 East Sixth Ave. Public comment will only be taken at this location. No audio or video will be available.