‘Firestorm’ of public comment leads FWP to rethink elk management proposals

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has backpedaled on a controversial elk management strategy after a public response that FWP Director Henry “Hank” Worsech described as a “firestorm.” Even after the department backed away from the most contentious proposal it had planned to present to the Fish and Wildlife Commission, public commenters continued to raise concerns at yesterday’s commission meeting in Helena about a process they said has been rushed and favors large landowners and brings the state closer to privatizing wildlife.

In response to public comment, FWP decided not to move forward with a measure that would have allowed hunters to buy over-the-counter tags to hunt elk on private property in eight hunting districts while simultaneously reducing the number of tags available to public land hunters. Worsech acknowledged receiving heated feedback over the past week but defended the department’s approach, saying he wanted to try new strategies to reduce elk numbers in areas where they’re above the population targets set by the department, particularly in places where landowners are concerned about elk eating available forage. He said he had asked department staff to bring forward proposals centering biological objectives as well as those focused on “the social standpoint.”

“Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity — I wanted to look at something a little bit different,” Worsech told the commission.

Read more from the Montana Free Press here...

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