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FWP Scoping Meetings - 41 chances to show up - Starting Monday the 20th

Ben Lamb

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Cedar, MI

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Fish, Wildlife and Parks Announces 41 Scoping Meetings on the New Elk Management Plan - Your Input is Needed!​

The Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has announced 41 scoping meetings to take input on what should be in the new Elk Management Plan.

These meetings start as early as June 20th in Wisdom & Columbus and spread out from there.

We are encouraging everyone to attend these meetings and let your thoughts on elk management be known. Only by showing up and being counted, can we ensure that our long-standing tradition of elk being managed for all Montanans be upheld.

Below you will find some generic suggestions to consider submitting during these scoping meetings, but we also strongly encourage you to submit comments relative to your own hunting districts, and locations. You know best what happens in the districts you hunt the most - your voice needs to be heard in that regard.


Suggested points to put forward:

1.) Manage for realistic objective numbers
. Many landowners and hunters are calling for realistic objective numbers rather than the artificially low objectives that are currently in place. These objectives should be informed by actual biological carrying capacity and landowner tolerance. Striking a balance between over abundance and artificially low numbers is difficult, but the current objectives are part of the reason conflict is so high. The current Elk Management Plan (EMP) provides a good roadmap on how to approach this issue on Page 55 that calls for cow only seasons in areas that are over objective and for not counting elk on lands that are inaccessible to hunters.

2.) Hunter disbursement: Season structure, crowding and loss of hunter access to traditional private lands all combined with heavy pressure on public lands create situations where elk flee public land and open private land in order to find safe spaces out of harm's way. Other states have managed to solve this issue, so MT needs to look at how to distribute hunters better across the landscapes where elk live.

3.) Elk-Borne Disease Management. Brucellosis, Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and other vectors can be major motivators with elk management, especially inside the Designated Surveillance Area for Brucellosis, and all over the state relative to CWD. Managing for disease resiliency is a critical part of this effort. Simply trying to kill our way out of the issue ignores the reality of an endemic disease, and as such, research and funding must be put forward to help find potential solutions to both the brucellosis issue for livestock, as well as CWD, Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) and other endemic wildlife disease issues.

4.) Protect migration corridors, travel corridors & safe wildlife passage: Ensuring that elk and other wildlife have their migration routes protected on public land and through willing seller-willing buyer land purchases and permanent easements. Elk in western and central Montana move a lot. Ensuring that their migration routes are not developed helps ensure that elk have a better chance of making it between winter and summer ranges. Working with private landowners and public land managers, the agency must continue to identify and conserve migration routes in order to ensure a bright future for elk, and a brighter future for those landowners who choose to work with the agency on protecting migration routes.

5.) Habitat Montana. Montana should continue to focus on habitat conservation across the state through the use of Habitat Montana for permanent conservation easements and new Wildlife Management Areas. Both of these options provide permanent access for hunters based on landowner needs and the wildlife management prescriptions local biologists set. This program is a benefit for family farmers & ranchers as well as hunters. Its continued use is critical towards ensuring Montana’s commitment to wildlife conservation, family farming and ranching and ensuring that wildlife and hunters will always have places to thrive.

6.) Increase positive contacts between landowners, hunters and agency staff. This means having full staff capacity and increasing staff that works on Block Management and other positions within the wildlife division. It’s imperative that our biologists, wardens, Block Management administrators and others who are in daily contact with landowners and hunters are empowered to find collaborative approaches that benefit all stakeholders as well as wildlife. Ensuring that local connection means better outcomes for landowners and for hunters while also improving the relationships needed to conserve our valued wildlife.

7.) Travel on public lands: FWP must remain engaged in travel planning on public lands especially as it relates to Elk Security Standards and travel management on public lands. Hunters know that too much pressure forces elk to leave an area. Wide open roads during hunting seasons help contribute to problematic concentrations of wildlife, while hunter success tends to fall in areas with heavy motorized use.


Early Scoping Meetings:
Region 3:

Wisdom:
  • June 20 from 6:30-9 p.m.
  • Wisdom Community Center
  • HDs: 321, 329, 331

Helena 1 of 2
  • June 22 from 6:30-9 p.m.
  • Helena Middle School Auditorium
  • HDs: 380, 391, 392

Helena 2 of 2
  • June 27 from 6-8 p.m.
  • Helena Middle School Auditorium
  • HDs: 318, 335, 339, 343, 388

Townsend
  • June 28 from 6:30-9 p.m.
  • Broadwater Rod & Gun Club Indoor Shooting Range
  • HDs: 380, 390, 391

Region 5:

Red Lodge
  • June 21 from 5-8 p.m.
  • Red Lodge Senior Center
  • HDs: 502, 525, 555

Billings
  • June 22 from 5-9 p.m.
  • Hilton Garden Inn
  • HDs: All Region 5 HDs (502, 515, 525, 535, 540, 555, 565, 575, 580, 590)

Roundup
  • June 28 from 5-9 p.m.
  • Roundup Senior Center
  • HDs: 411, 535, 590

Big Timber
  • June 29 from 5-9 p.m.
  • Big Timber Library
  • HDs: 315, 515, 565, 575, 580

Harlowton
  • June 30 from 5-9 p.m.
  • Harlowton Kiwanis Center
  • HDs: 411, 515, 535, 540, 580

    You are receiving this email because you signed up for updates through MTElk.org. The Montana Citizen's Elk Management Coalition is comprised of over 17 organizations and hundreds of individuals like you. For more information, email us at [email protected] or visit our website at MTElk.org
 

MLaird

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Dec 15, 2017
Messages
219
Location
Billings, MT
Nuts, I’m gonna be gone when they have the Billings mtg. Maybe I can make a different Reg. 5 mtg.
 

MTMOOSE

New member
Joined
Dec 10, 2018
Messages
11
Extremely disappointed in the public participation in the Helena meeting tonight. 5 people total for three hunting districts. There were more fwp staff than public interested in the future of elk hunting. Very sad…
 

DougStickney

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Joined
Feb 10, 2022
Messages
602
Extremely disappointed in the public participation in the Helena meeting tonight. 5 people total for three hunting districts. There were more fwp staff than public interested in the future of elk hunting. Very sad…
Hard to get excited about much when the fix is already in.
 

MTelkHuntress

Well-known member
Joined
Mar 20, 2019
Messages
575
Location
Montana
Thanks for posting here, I had no clue that these emails were going to my spam folder 😑 oh Gmail, always making things complex.
Hopefully more hunters spread the word about these. Just showing up helps a lot.
 

Ben Lamb

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 6, 2010
Messages
17,033
Location
Cedar, MI
Not surprising that the meetings are sparsely populated. Scheduling 41 meetings through the course of the summer & fall means that they were expecting the same. Most people are trying to live their lives in summertime rather than attending a meeting. .

There are plenty of opportunities to get engaged. Keep after it!
 

406LIFE

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Joined
Aug 18, 2016
Messages
3,073
@Ben Lamb Is the list of WHO the coalition is, including individuals and landowners, public yet? At the PLPW in Billings, Marcus Strange said that it wasn't released yet. Hard to work with people when you don't know who they are.
 

Ben Lamb

Well-known member
Joined
Aug 6, 2010
Messages
17,033
Location
Cedar, MI
@Ben Lamb Is the list of WHO the coalition is, including individuals and landowners, public yet? At the PLPW in Billings, Marcus Strange said that it wasn't released yet. Hard to work with people when you don't know who they are.

The Coalition is comprised of many individuals, landowners, several local rod & gun clubs throughout the state, as well as some statewide groups like MWF & MTBHA, Trad Bow, etc. https://www.montanaelk.org/whoweare

The list of logos on the webpage isn't complete, as some groups are participating, but didn't want to be listed for a variety of reasons, and we respect their decision.

MWF due to their staff capacity is the sponsor of the coalition, and Marcus is a huge part of that. He'd love to come back and actually present on the work the Coalition is doing, as he was originally invited to do.

If your question is will the coalition release the list of over 650 individuals who have donated, signed up to receive alerts, messages, are actively participating in our discussions & meetings, etc - no. That's a betrayal of privacy and we're not comfortable doing that. The groups and individuals working on the policy documents, etc are varied as well and I'm not comfortable putting out 30 names on a public forum for people to nitpick and attack their credibility either. A lot of folks that we have been talking too are concerned about having their name out there regardless of the issue due to the toxic nature of politics in MT and respectfully, demanding names in a public forum helps foster that suspicion.

The Landowners/land managers within the coalition that are actively influencing our policy ideas are from Fergus County, Deer Lodge County, Valley County, Custer NF, & Ravalli County. We're currently setting up meetings with a variety of individual ranchers as well as trade groups & grazing groups from R7 to R2. Our members are constantly talking with their neighbors who own ranches & farms, running concepts by them, having conversations, etc. In the last week, we've had several landowners reach out to sit down and discuss their ideas as well as ours. We are working on setting up meetings with grazing groups on the Front, the Hi Line, the south side of the Breaks, Paradise Valley, Crazy Mountains and Beaverhead county. Our discussions with landowners in Meagher County have been incredibly fruitful and shown that there's a path here that benefits landowners and hunters together, while restoring some semblance of trust among some pretty skeptical people - myself included. I'd rather build that trust right now than throw out a bunch of names of folks who are asking for some privacy to have these tough conversations.

If you have some landowners that you think we should be talking too, I'm happy to reach out to them. We are making a sincere effort to reach out to the traditional landowner community of Montana while also developing policies that hopefully benefit all. Always happy to talk on the phone. You have my number.

BTW - if folks haven't signed up for the Coalition's listserv, you can do so at the bottom of the page here: https://www.montanaelk.org/

We are also pulling together an Elk Management Symposium on August 13th in Bozeman, so save that date. We'll be exploring the concepts that the Coalition has been working on while looking at how other states handle elk issues, what the latest science tells us about elk and how season structure can be used to better distribute elk on the land as well as increase hunter success. I'm excited about some of the panelists we're inviting and I think it will be a fun day.
 

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