It's 70 degrees today, rifle opener is on the horizon, fall colors are peaking and mountain snow is in the 10-day forecast! Things are changing rapidly in Montana, and elk management is no exception.
Here's what your Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers has been up to and what's on deck:
1) Big Snowy Wildlife Management Area, approved!
Today, the Montana Land Board voted in favor of acquiring the 5,677-acre parcel by a vote of 4-1. Attorney General Knudsen was the lone voice against the project, while Governor Gianforte, Secretary of State Jacobsen, Auditor Downing and Superintendent Arntzen all voted for it, much to the pleasure of sportsmen and women. The vote represented the final hurdle in purchasing and creating a new WMA at the base of the Big Snowies. The property is made up of both forest and prairie rangeland, the quintessential elk habitat. It also will improve access to more than 100,000 acres of existing public lands. A huge win for Montana hunters! Big thanks to Montana BHA board member Anne Jolliff for being there this morning (pictured here) to provide supportive testimony on behalf of the Chapter.
2) Our Comments: Elk Management Citizen Advisory Group Recommendations
On September 15th, Montana FWP released for public comment the 15 elk-related recommendations developed by FWP's hand-selected Elk Management Citizen Advisory Group. The proposals range from 'Enforce Stricter Penalties for Trespassing...' to 'Choose Your Weapon/Season,' and many others. In our opinion, there are many good proposals here, though some need tweaking, and others miss the mark or are being considered prematurely. Montana BHA submitted in-depth comments for each recommendation, and you can read our thoughts here. The comment period is now closed and FWP is considering the feedback they received before deciding to move forward with the proposals or not. Montana BHA will keep you posted on future opportunities to weigh in.
3) Our Comments: Elk Management Plan & Objectives
Montana FWP has announced their intentions to update the 2005 Elk Management Plan. For months, they've been asking for feedback regarding elk objectives numbers and elk management concerns. Montana BHA members attended many listening sessions across the state. Our board members weighed in on individual districts, and as a Chapter we submitted broad comments and feedback to the Department. You can read our comments here. The comment period is now closed and FWP is considering the feedback they received before moving forward with the Elk Management Plan draft. Montana BHA will continue to engage in the Elk Management Plan rewrite and keep you informed on additional chances to comment.
4) Keep Elk Public Update
Now that our request to intervene in the lawsuit against Montana FWP and the Fish & Wildlife Commission has been granted, the real legal work begins. The court has set a schedule for the case and we look forward to fully participating in this defense of public wildlife management from here on out. To learn more and support our efforts, visit KeepElkPublic.org.
5) Let us know your thoughts on elk management and more!
The Montana BHA member survey is now live. Share you opinions with us and be entered to win a prize packaged valued at more than $400.
6) September success!
A few of our board members have already filled their freezers. Congratulations to both Scott Desena (above) and Thomas Baumeister (below)! Don't forget, we love seeing our members' adventures and success afield or on the water. Tag @montanabha or use hashtag #montanabha on Instagram for possible features.
Montana BHA continues to stick up for equitable hunting opportunity, public access and wildlife habitat. We appreciate your support and ongoing participation. And best of luck to all you rifle hunters heading out for opening weekend!
- Montana BHA
Learn more about the Montana Chapter: