Nearly 20 years have passed since Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks last updated its Elk Management Plan (out for comment now).
The new EMP has some good ideas, like reviewing the plan every five years, and raising elk herd objectives — now called goals — in many districts, then using three-year averages to determine if these goals are met.
But some proposals are troubling.
"Where (a hunting district) is chronically and significantly over the stated population size goal and is using limited either-sex permits or limited bull permits, FWP will propose to allow a brow-tined-bull or any bull on a General Elk License.”
However, harvesting cow elk — not bulls — impacts populations most, and there are already liberal seasons and tools to harvest cows and incentivize access, coupled with legitimate concerns of public lands overcrowding. Will unlimited bull tags fix anything or make the problems worse?