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New member
Nov 28, 2001
For those that live in Montata and want to have some input on the new plans, better get off your butts and jump on this. Or you have no excuse down the road for whining and I will call you on it!!!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE –November 19, 2002
Contact: Ron Aasheim, (406) 444-4038

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks needs to update Montana's 10-year-old statewide elk management plan next year and is seeking public comment now on issues and concerns associated with elk and elk hunting in Montana.

"Throughout most of Montana, long-term trends show elk populations are in better shape than ever, and hunter success is good, especially when you consider the number of hunters bagging bigger bull elk, but there are problems brewing for elk managers," said Glenn Erickson, FWP's wildlife management bureau chief in Helena.

Due in part to the recent string of unseasonably mild and dry falls and winters, elk numbers are now out pacing hunter harvests. "The result is more private landowner complaints, increased game-damage incidents, and frustrated hunters, " Erickson said.

Montana's first statewide elk management plan was completed in 1992 following one of FWP's most aggressive attempts to take a plan to the people of Montana for comment, discussion and approval. That plan, for the first time, established statewide elk management population objectives and divided Montana's elk habitat into 35 Elk Management Units (EMU), each with its own elk management objectives and elk population targets. The plan also contained information on the status of Montana's elk populations, hunter access, and the harvest trends for every EMU.

Overall, the plan sought to maintain the distribution of elk in Montana at about two million acres across about 30 percent of the state. The plan also sought a 10 percent increase in elk populations, hunter harvest and recreation days.

Over the past 10 years, elk populations in the western portion of Montana have maintained a similar pattern of distribution, but there have been expansions in eastern Montana.

In spite of increases in elk permits and more liberal hunting seasons, however, elk numbers continue to increase in many locations. Nearly 60 percent of Montana's 35 EMUs exceed elk-population objectives established in 1992. In addition, 31 percent of the state's EMUs exceed harvest objectives.

"We need to do a better job of managing these elk, and that's why we need the public's help as we look at updating and revising the state's elk management plan," Erickson said.

FWP will take public comment on any issues associated with elk and elk management in Montana through Dec. 30. Erickson is encouraging those interested in elk, and their conservation and management in Montana, to offer their ideas and comments. "Right now we need to uncover the issues or concerns people have about elk in Montana—the good and the bad," he said. "Once we compile the issues, we'll turn to solutions to address them."

Erickson said daily circumstances offer good examples of issues of concern to hunters, landowners and others that are already being offered to FWP, including, but not limited to, the following:

· Some federal lands have different elk-population and hunter-access objectives than Montana's elk plan.

· Lack of hunting pressure on private lands is creating "refuges" and growing elk populations that, in turn, create damage problems for adjacent landowners who allow hunting.

· It is unfair to give some hunters sole access to hunt bull elk and then allow the general public access to hunt only antlerless elk to help manage growing herds.

· Mild weather conditions during the fall can hinder adequate harvest of elk during the general fall season, even on public lands.

· The lack of good forage conditions on public lands in some areas causes elk to use private lands more frequently during winter and spring.

· FWP’s road management policies that provide security for bull elk in conjunction with state and federal road management programs may be resulting in a reduction in antlerless-elk harvests.
FWP has arranged to take comment through Dec. 30 via FWP's website at www.fwp.state.mt.us--look for the Elk Plan Update link in the Hot Topics box; and by mail at Elk Plan Update, Montana FWP, P.O. Box 200701; Helena, MT 59620-0701.

FWP is required to prepare an environmental assessment in conjunction with its statewide elk management plan update. A draft EA is expected to be released for public comment in March, and the final, updated plan is expected to be complete next spring.
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