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Entries in Montana FWP (59)


Montana's big game season gets off to a big start

(MISSOULA)- Nothing like a little fierce fall weather to stir up the game in time for Montana's hunters. 

Montana’s general big game hunting season opened on Saturday, and in the west-central part of the state, hunter check stations reports show the highest number of big game animals harvested on opening weekend since 2010.

In fact, game agents say it turned out to be the best opener for white-tailed deer in more than a decade, matching the robust hunts of the early 2000s. And elk numbers were the highest in 5-years. 

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks reported 117 elk, 111 white-tailed deer, 15 mule deer and five black bears at its Darby, Anaconda and Bonner check stations combined.

“The check stations only sample a relatively small portion of the hunting effort and harvests across the region, and they don’t tell the whole story by any means,” said Mike Thompson, FWP Region 2 Wildlife Manager. “But, check stations do a good job of showing us trends over time, and the opening weekend numbers tell us that the hunting season is off to a stronger start than we seen in a while." 


Bison management plan meetings set

Dennis Bragg photo(BOZEMAN)- The latest effort to adjust plans for how wild bison are managed around Yellowstone National Park is being released, with interested ranchers, conservation groups and the general public being invited to view the details next week. 

The new draft plan is designed to replace the Interagency Bison Management Plan, which has been in place since 2011. Wildlife managers say the new plan is being written around the latest science and research, and what has been learned about the herd's migration in and out of the park the past several seasons. 

This plan, being developed by the National Park Service and the State of Montana uses six different alternatives that were outlined in recent public "scoping" efforts. 

The three meetings will give people a chance to review the initial work, with an open house where questions can be directed to NPS and FWP officials. 

The meetings will be held in Bozeman on June 2nd at the Hilton Garden Inn, June 3rd at the Gardiner School and June 4th at the Holiday Inn in West Yellowstone. 

The new plan could be finalized in 2017. 


Sheep deaths prompt hunting closure near Gardiner

(HELENA)- As biologists continue to struggle with the cause of a disease that's killing off sheep in the Northern Rockies, wildlife managers are closing hunting in one area near Gardiner to dave the remnants of one herd. 

The sheep pneumonia has been an increasing problem in the region over the past few seasons, killing hundreds of bighorns. Researchers are still trying to work out the exact reasons for the spread of the disease, and why some sheep are immune while others are not. 

The die-off has been particularly bad this season in hunting district 305 in Park County, where 30% of the herd and 40% of the mature rams have died around in the cliffs around Gardiner and Cinnabar since the outbreak started last year. This winter alone, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks agents have found more than 2-dozen dead sheep. 

Now, the FWP Commission has approved an emergency closure of the 2015 hunting season in that district to protect the remainder of the herd. The plan would be to re-open hunting when the sheep population recovers. 

Hunters who had already applied will be given a chance to apply elsewhere in the state, or given a refund. Last year about 100-hunters had applied for the single permit that was granted for the 2015 season.


FWP investigating grizzly shooting

(THOMPSON FALLS)- Wardens with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks are looking into the report of a grizzly being killed in an act of self defense near Thompson Falls over the weekend. 

FWP reports the shooting happened Sunday in the Lower Thompson River area in Sanders County. The male grizzly was killed by a person who immediately reported the shooting to authorities. The case remains under investigation. 

Grizzlies are a protected species and shooting one can result in charges, although some exceptions are made in cases of self-defense and safety, depending on the circumstances. 


Alberton Gorge closes to float traffic as derailment cleanup continues

Photo by Jen Johnson via KPAX TV(SUPERIOR)- State officials have closed the popular Alberton Gorge on the Lower Clark Fork River to float traffic to prevent conflicts with cleanup of a train derailment. 

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks had closed that section of the river after 19-cars from a Montana Rail Link train derailed near Superior. The crash sent three cars with Boeing airplane components headed for Seattle into the river, including partial aircraft fuselages. There are concerns about floaters getting in the way of cleanup efforts. 

The derailment is near Fish Creek Road, so the river remains closed, including the FWP access points at St. John's, Cyr Bridge, Triple Bridge, Ralph's Takeout and Tarkio. The river is expected to remain closed until the cleanup is finished.