Montana's Elk Management Facts

ELKCHSR

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE—November 19, 2002

Contact—Ron Aasheim: 406-444-4038



WHO?

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



WHAT?

Montana's first statewide elk management plan was completed in 1992 following an aggressive public participation process 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, 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.



WHY?

Long-term trends show elk populations are strong and hunter success is good. Nevertheless, wildlife managers are facing several serious problems that are due to a variety of factors, from access restrictions to recent mild and dry falls and winters that have seen elk numbers and populations out pace hunter harvests. The result is increased game-damage incidents, more private-landowner complaints, and frustrated hunters. Today, in spite of increases in elk permits and more liberal hunting seasons, elk numbers continue grow. 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. FWP needs to update the state's elk management plan to do a better job of managing the state's elk. The wildlife agency is seeking public comment about what Montanans and others see as issues facing Montana's elk management program.



WHEN?

FWP will take public comment on any issues associated with elk and elk management in Montana through Dec. 30. 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.



HOW?

FWP is encouraging those interested in elk, and their conservation and management in Montana to offer their ideas and comments. FWP has arranged to take comment through Dec. 30 via FWP's website at www.fwp.state.mt.us, click on 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.

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