Montana hunters are "satisfied" with state elk management

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Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) recently released the results of its resident elk hunter survey, pleased that 73% of those who responded were positive about the way Montana manages elk for hunting opportunity. Further, resident hunters were “satisfied” with current elk regulations and elk seasons, according to the Billings Gazette.

“These results should inform public discussions and the elk management policies of the (Fish and Wildlife) Commission going forward,” said Mac Minard, executive director of the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association. “Montana hunters made it clear that they do not support additional regulations or loss of opportunities and underscored a need to increase hunting on private lands in order to disperse elk to public lands.”

While the survey focused on resident hunters, nonresident elk hunters also weighed in with over 60% preferring to hunt elk in Montana every year and 75% “very interested in killing a bull elk.”

“These surveys are important ways for us to gauge hunter opinion on our elk and mule deer management,” said FWP Director Dustin Temple. “We’re currently working on regulation proposals for the public’s review early this fall. We hope hunters take the time to review the proposals and let us know what they think.”

Another highlight from the survey is that hunters don’t seem to mind the five-week general rifle season for elk and mule deer

“While important to many, trophy hunting was the least important reason expressed by survey respondents for hunting elk in Montana,” according to the FWP survey.

But how do these figures compare when the survey doesn’t include all elk hunters? In fact, it’s just a random sampling of 5,000 resident hunters and 800 nonresident hunters – and less than half responded. To compare: in 2021, resident hunters bought 163,000 elk licenses and 221,600 deer licenses. Nonresidents bought 66,600 deer and elk licenses.

“The sampling fraction required to produce accurate estimates at population-level gets smaller the larger the population is,” said Justin Gude, chief of FWP’s Research and Technical Services section. “The randomness of the sample is the key.”

Even with a low response rate, Gude says the numbers are “dependable.”

“They certainly do not reflect the opinion of every hunter or hunters in every local area, which will vary from the overall proportions and themes represented in the general results,” said Gude.

What do you think? Are you satisfied with current elk management in Montana? Is there enough opportunity? Weigh in below.

Interested in reading the FWP survey? Click here


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