February 28 2019
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
490 North Meridian Road
Kalispell, MT 59901
Re: Sharp-tailed Reintroduction Environmental Assessment
To: Chris Hammond
The Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers (MTBHA) is writing to express its support of the reintroduction of sharptailed grouse (STGR) to western Montana.
The reintroduction of STGR would replace a missing part of the western Montana landscape. Whether or not there would be eventual hunting opportunities for STGR, our members and most hunters would be happy to know that these native birds are on the landscape that they spend their most cherished time on. The opportunity to see a STGR while stalking a deer, calling to an elk or searching for sheds would add immensely to the experience and recreation value of western Montana.
MTBHA does recommend that once reintroduction efforts have commenced that FWP make efforts to make hunters aware of the bird’s presence, to avoid accidental take of STGR. This will not only protect STGR and the effort to reintroduce them but avoid potential legal and ethical problems for hunters who are not used to the presence of STGR in their favorite hunting areas. FWP should also avoid a rush to create a hunting season for STGR until there is certainty that reestablished populations can withstand hunting.
Although there appears to be little risk of jeopardizing existing populations with capture of STGR in central and eastern Montana, MTBHA recommends that efforts be made by FWP to monitor those populations, so that one existing population is not sacrificed inadvertently for the sake of another.
MTBHA applauds FWP and its partners in their proactive management and its efforts to restore a small, but invaluable piece of Montana’s wild landscape.
Thank you for your time and consideration of our comments,
The Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers