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Entries in Montana FWP (59)


FWP issues warnings after rash of sheep collisions 

(MISSOULA)- Managers with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks are warning drivers to be more careful in sheep territory, after seven bighorns were killed on West Central Montana highways in the past week.

FWP says five sheep were killed in collisions with cars and trucks on Highway 200 in the cliffs east of Bonner, with another killed on Lower Rock Creek and a seventh sheep killed when it was hit on Highway 93 along the East Fork of the Bitterroot south of Conner. Fortunately, none of the drivers or passengers were hurt in the wrecks. 

FWP Region 2 Wildlife Biologist, Vickie Edwards, says that bighorn sheep have a small habitat niche that often is bisected by road systems and residential and agricultural development.  

“These areas may not be wildlife crossings per se, but are within year-round, core habitat for bighorn sheep, with bighorns attracted to roadways for salt and irrigated pastures and lawns for green vegetation,” says Edwards. 

Also, FWP says bighorn sheep adapt quickly to vehicular activity and are not always wary of traffic, especially young lambs. 

“Tall grasses along roadways make it challenging for motorists to see adult bighorn sheep, let alone lambs of the year that may dart in front of oncoming traffic,” Edwards says.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks urges motorists to use caution in areas with bighorn sheep and to anticipate bighorns emerging onto roadways without warning.  Motorists in Region 2 may encounter bighorn sheep along the East Fork of the Bitterroot, Highway 93 south of Darby, Skalkaho Road, Highway 1 near Anaconda, Petty Creek Road, Highway 200 along the Blackfoot River and Rock Creek. 


FWP lengthens wolf season, increases bag limit

USFWS photo by J. & K. Hollingsworth(HELENA)- Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks commissioners have approved the agency's most aggressive wolf season ever, increasing bag limits and lengthening the season in an effort to stabilize wolf numbers. 

The FWP Commission met Wednesday in Helena to finalize the rules and regulations for the upcoming season, as the state continues to use hunting as a tool to control the wolf population in Montana. 

This year the wolf rifle hunting season will start on September 15th and last until March 31st, which is a couple of weeks longer than the 2012-13 season. The commission also approved the use of electronic calls, and increased the bag limit to five wolves per hunter, the most ever allowed. 

However, in a nod to concerns from Yellowstone National Park biologists, the state decided to reduce the bag limit to one wolf per hunter near the park and limited the total number of wolves in that zone. There had been concerns from the park and conservation groups that aggressive hunting nearby could endanger the population of wolves in the park. 

Wolf trapping will also be allowed this year, with the season starting in mid-December and running through February 28th. The wolf archery season will run from September 7th through September 14th. 


Power outage kills thousands of fish at Eureka hatchery

(EUREKA)- Managers with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks are now estimating as many as 160,000 fish were killed when power failed at a hatchery outside Eureka over the weekend. 

FWP says the power outage Sunday morning shutdown the water pumps at the Murray Springs State Fish Hatchery, shutting off the pumped water that is critical to the operation. The agency says the backup generator failed to start automatically, meaning the pumps were down for more than 3-hours leading to what's being called a "significant fish kill."

Fish that died include 30,000 hearing Gerrard Rainbow Trout, which were to be released in Lake Koocanusa, and 47,000 Redband Rainbow Trout measuring about 2-inches that were set for release in smaller lakes in the Libby and Eureka area. The kill also wiped out about 6,000 two year old Westslope Cutthroat that were planned for Holland and Lindbergh Lakes in the Swan Valley and 50,000 smaller Eagle Lake rainbows. 

FWP biologists believe they can offset some of the impacts by using surplus fish from other state hatcheries. But even so, stocking in lakes around Lincoln County will likely see the impacts from the fish kill for the next two years.  


Trapping helping to boost wolf harvest numbers

(HELENA)- Hunters, and trappers, have taken more than 200-wolves this season according to the latest numbers from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. 

And that's putting the state closer to the target populations of wolves it hopes to manage in the future. 

The latest totals from FWP Monday show a total of 207-wolves have been killed during the current season. 121-wolves were taken by hunters and 86-wolves were taken by trappers. That's ahead last year, when hunters alone took 166-wolves, far short of the target of 220-wolves set by state biologists. 

While most of the wolves have been killed by hunters, the first year of trapping is actually bringing a greater reduction of wolf numbers in some areas of the state. In Wolf Management Unit 101 west of Kalispell 15-wolves were caught by trappers while 7-were killed by hunters. In Unit 290 east of Missoula more than twice as many wolves had been killed by trappers. Three times as many wolves were harvested by trapping in the sprawling Game Management Unit 400, which extends from the Rocky Mountain Front east to the North Dakota border. 

The largest number of wolves taken by both hunting and trapping have been in Unit 390, which stretches from Helena and Central Montana through the southeast corner of the state. 

On the West Fork of the Bitterroot, where hunters have been concerned about wolves killing off elk herds, 15-wolves were killed, split almost evenly between hunters and trappers. 

Quotas for wolf hunts are being calculated statewide this year, except for the North Fork of the Flathead where a quota is still in place. 

Montana biologists estimated the state had 650-wolves a year ago, prior to last spring's litters. The state's target has been a total population of 450-wolves.  


Bill to allow wolf hunting with silencers advances in Helena

USFWS photo by J. & K. Hollingsworth(HELENA)- That proposal to allow Montana hunters to use silencers on their guns when stalking wolves clears another hurdle in Helena. 

Montana Public Media reports the House has passed second reading on House Bill 27, which would make it okay for wolf hunters to use silencers once the general big game hunting season is over. Hunters and biologists have argued the additional measure will help hunters be more successful in taking wolves, and meeting the objectives to use hunting to control wolf numbers in Montana. 

Silencers are already legal for hunting other predatory game animals including coyotes and foxes.