Are upland game bird regulations about to be flipped on their head?
Not exactly. Current proposals include nothing drastic. But FWP’s decision to host two meetings - and reminding the public that the Commission can make amendments to current proposals - signals other concerns that haven’t yet been addressed.
We’ve heard from hunters, both residents and non, that the bird hunting opportunities they covet are becoming harder to find in Montana. There’s a growing concern over commercial bird dog training on public lands too.
During meetings and on online forums, all manner of ideas have been shared, ranging from the need to shorten or alter season dates, to delay opening dates for non-residents like SD does, or to make upland game bird licenses regional and capped rather than statewide and unlimited.
Others argue that no changes are needed, bird populations are doing just fine, and that Montanans value their hunting traditions with friends and family - both residents and non - and don’t want those to change.
Rural communities have said that they rely on the dollars provided by resident and non-resident hunters. Though, just as many hunters living in eastern Montana have complained about too many hunters. So it largely depends who you ask.
Currently, the only proposed changes are related to falconry license requirements and turkeys, most significantly upping the turkey bag limits in Region 1. So the decision to host these meetings in Glendive and Scobey (Regions 6 and 7) is to acknowledge concerns unrelated to current proposals. There will be presentations on “upland game bird populations, harvest, and hunting pressure… as eastern Montana attracts many resident and nonresident upland gamebird hunters,” according to the release by FWP.
If you’re curious or have opinions on these issues, please attend and ask questions. The meetings will be from 6-8pm, January 16th and 17th; more info at FWP’s website. If you don’t live in or near Glendive or Scobey - which, statistically, you don’t - then you can tune in virtually, but won’t be able to ask questions.
You can comment on current proposals until Jan. 23. After that, comments will be accepted during Feb. 16th’s Commission meeting. If amendments are added, the Feb. meeting is when they’ll be discussed.