The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission approved several items for public comment at their June meeting.
Comment on the following items will be accepted until July 16 at 5 p.m. Final adoption of the proposed items will not be before the regular August commission meeting.
Furbearer and trapping regulations, seasons and quotas
FWP proposes to establish a trapper education program and mandatory trapper education requirement for most people trapping furbearers, predators (coyote, weasel and skunk), wolves, fox, badger and racoon to start taking effect in 2018.
Additionally, FWP proposes by the 2019 trapping season to require modifications to ground-set foothold traps set for the above species that include a center swivel, an additional chain swivel, and jaws with minimum offset and thickness.
Persons trapping for purposes of livestock or property protection would be exempt from these requirements.
FWP also propose an increase to the regions 1 and 2 otter per-person take and possession limit from 2 to 3.
Mandatory trapper education will ensure that new trappers have the basic knowledge and skills to trap safely, humanely, and effectively. It will also provide peer-to-peer interaction that sets ethical standards even where regulations may not exist or provide clear guidance or may be difficult to enforce. The trapper education program will also cover wolf trapping so that in the future there will not be a separate wolf trapping class.
Trap modifications including center swivels, offset jaws, and minimum thickness (lamination) are best management practices that have been shown to increase animal comfort and decrease injury. Today’s trappers consider these features necessary to trap ethically and humanely.
The proposed increase to the Regions 1 and 2 otter per-person take and possession limit from 2 to 3 is to better match opportunity with the distribution of trapping.
To comment, follow this link: http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/publicComments/2017/furbearerTrappingProposals.html
Nongame check-off work plan
The Fish and Wildlife Commission annually reviews and approves the work plan for the nongame check-off program. While final 2016 tax year donations are unknown now, the average received by FWP from the 2004-2015 tax years was $30,000 per year. FWP is anticipating this amount with some addition to the balance from previous years.
The work plan for the year includes $30,000 for inventory, monitoring and conservation work on Montana species of concern and species in need of inventory as determined through a formal ranking process; $15,000 for wildlife viewing and outreach projects that encourage more Montanans to appreciate Montana wildlife; $5,000 for competitive student stipend for nongame research.
To comment, follow this link: http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/publicComments/2017/nongameCheckoff.html
HD 311 late shoulder season north of Highway 84 (Bozeman to Norris Road)
FWP proposes to institute a shoulder season beginning this fall and running from the end of general firearms season to Feb. 15, 2018 in the north half of HD 311 – that portion north of Highway 84. The objective is to reduce game damage and reduce brucellosis risk by changing elk distribution through prescribed hunting pressure. This proposal responds to a marked and sudden change in the distribution of over 1,800 elk that has been difficult to manage using traditional game damage and management hunts, and hazing and herders among a patchwork of numerous landowners. Although elk are not over objective in HD 311 the shoulder season guidelines allow for a shoulder season under these circumstances. This area is also within the brucellosis Designated Surveillance Area, and the elk herd of most concern here, the one at the north end of the Spanish Peaks, has a seroprevalance of 22.5%. Ranchers are very concerned about these elk mixing with their cattle.
To comment, follow this link: http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/publicComments/2017/HD311ShoulderSeason.html
For further clarification or additional materials, you may call the Wildlife Division office at 406-444-2612 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments will be accepted: online by using any of the links; in writing sent to: Wildlife Division, PO Box 200701, Helena MT 59620-0701; and by email to email@example.com.