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Montana proposes elk shoulder season


Montana Elk Herd
Photo credit: Dreamstime

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) have proposed an elk shoulder season on the Spotted Dog Wildlife Management Area (WMA) to help manage the flourishing elk population within the 38,000-acre WMA. The proposed walk-in hunt will replace MFWP’s initial suggestion of holding a limited late-season elk hunt; public feedback influenced that decision, the Independent Record reports. The hunt would take place in Hunting District 215, which is located near Elliston, Montana.

“Since we purchased Spotted Dog in 2010, elk populations have increased from 1,716 to 2,850, so they’ve more than realized anybody’s vision for growing elk,” MFWP Regional Wildlife Manager Mike Thompson told the Independent Record. “It’s so far above objective that we have to reduce this population or mathematically it’s going to get away from us.”

This isn’t the first time MFWP has suggested – and moved forward – with an elk shoulder season following the general season. As goHUNT previously reported, last year, an elk shoulder season was held in 43 of the state’s 135 hunting districts. Shoulder seasons help manage burgeoning herds and limit agricultural damage.

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However, the proposed hunt isn’t supported by everyone. In fact, Nick Gevock, who serves as conservation director of the Montana Wildlife Federation, says that WMAs shouldn’t be open to shoulder seasons and to do so would be a “major policy change.”

“It runs counter to what shoulder seasons are subject to do with wildlife on private ranches and farm lands,” Gevock told the Independent Record. “WMAs are lands purchased specifically for wildlife, and Spotted Dog is prime winter ground.

MFWP will hold meetings across the state to discuss upcoming proposals and suggested changes to Montana’s hunting seasons. If you are interested in commenting on the proposed seasons, you have until Jan. 24 to do so. Click here for more information.


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Tyler P. - posted 2 months ago on 01-15-2018 09:16:43 am

@ Anthony A.

I agree with you. Spotted Dog already sees a lot of pressure during the general season. If you can, please pass this comment onto Montana FWP. They are currently taking public comment on the proposed 2018-2019 season regulations.

Tim B. - posted 2 months ago on 01-13-2018 03:35:43 pm

If they are so worried about the herd size maybe they should transplant them in other parts of the state that are loosening ground cuz of the wolf planting

Joanna B. - posted 2 months ago on 01-13-2018 07:09:30 am

I've lived in Montana most of my life. I understand that people are concerned about the size of the herds be it bison, antelope, deer or elk. But I also realize that humans are at the root of the problem. As a species we are the most invasive. If the hunt is on private property I believe in the hunt. Otherwise I'm totally against it.

Anthony A. - posted 2 months ago on 01-12-2018 04:26:08 pm

The shoulder seasons on private land don't give the MT FWP a reasonable chance to manage elk population numbers. If just a few landowners don't participate that is where the elk will "bunch up". The growing numbers of elk on the Spotted Dog WMA needs to be managed. Maybe a limited number "B" tag drawing as opposed to an unlimited Shoulder Season free for all could properly manage elk herd populations, and at the same time avoid a possible over kill of elk due from a major early November blizzard. This would also keep the hunting experience positive. Unlimited Shoulder Tags could easily over run the WMA with too many hunters with the Spotted Dog's proximity to some of Montana's larger populated cities.