Speak Up for Reasonable Elk Management in Montana

The Montana Chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is deeply concerned about the manner in which Elk Shoulder Seasons (ESSs) are being used to manage elk in Montana.

The Shoulder Seasons were created as an emergency tool in response to legislative pressure to meet population objectives set in Montana’s 2004 Elk Management Plan. The ESS was meant to be temporary, used only on private land, and used only when and where effective.

thumbnail.jpgImage courtesy of Erik Petersen Photography

However, according to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP), the ESSs have proven ineffective in many areas and have been damaging to accessible elk herds in other areas. Yet, they continue to be applied in many of these districts across the state.

You can make a positive change: Montana FWP Commission is seeking an alternative to ESSs and is requesting public input for the 2020 and 2021 hunting seasons. FWP is accepting public comment through January 27th, 2020.

We encourage you to speak up and make your concerns known. Comments are being accepted via email.

The official comments from the Montana Chapter of BHA can be found here. If your concerns mirror ours, we suggest and invite you to consider using the talking points below in your comments, as you see fit:

  • Eliminate all ESS prior to the regular archery season and end them no later than Jan. 1.
  • Continue ESS in only those hunting districts where harvest criteria are being met and elk herds are trending in the desired direction until objectives are met.
  • Explore additional regular season antlerless harvest opportunities in districts with ESSs.
  • Evaluate all elk hunting seasons quantitatively and according to harvest criteria and make decisions based on actual performance.
  • Exempt “inaccessible elk” (those residing primarily on private land) from the objective number as provided for in Montana FWP’s current elk management plan (#5, p. 55).
  • Finalize the revised elk management plan prior to the 2020 fall hunting season including establishing realistic elk management objectives.
  • Establish elk working groups statewide (similar to the Devil's Kitchen group and recent efforts by FWP Region 2) to work collaboratively among diverse and representative stakeholders.
  • Revitalize the hunt roster/damage hunt program to ensure effective and equitable public participation. 


Send your comments to [email protected], or by mail to FWP Wildlife, PO Box 200701, Helena MT 59620-0701.


Thank you for speaking up for reasonable elk management in Montana.






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