FWP commission rejects Quiet Waters proposal

After almost a year of consideration and comment, a proposal to save some of Montana’s streams from the technological toys of the future has been defeated.

While considering the Quiet Waters Initiative on Friday, the three new members of the Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission had their first taste of the contentiousness that can flare up in response to fish and wildlife proposals. Although the commission was originally scheduled to vote on the initiative, Chairman Dan Vermillion proposed to once again extend the public comment period to gather more information and give those new commissioners a chance to better acquaint themselves with the issue prior to voting. So that’s the thing he asked people to comment on.

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FWP: Wolves to be managed like other game

The two new members of the Fish, Wildlife & Parks commission got off to an easy start on Friday with minimal public comment on wolves, lions and grizzly bears. But wolves still sparked discussion.

Commission chair Dan Vermillion praised an FWP proposal to finally include wolves in the regular season-setting agenda that comes before the commission every two years.

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Committee OK's shifting Habitat Montana toward access issues

9 p.m. UPDATE: HB 651 failed the second reading on the House floor by a vote of 47-53, so the bill is probably dead.

In spite of overwhelming opposition, Republicans have resurrected a bill to create a second public-land access specialist and spend sportsmen’s dollars buying land for access that might be poor habitat.

In a specially scheduled meeting Wednesday, House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Kerry White, R-Bozeman, brought House Bill 651 up for an unprecedented third round of executive action. Montana already has a public-land access specialist working in the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation to improve public access to all public lands, but HB 651 would create another position under the state land board to increase access to state lands using Habitat Montana funds.

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Lighted arrow nocks now legal for Montana bowhunters

Wresting the decision from the hands of legislators, the Fish, Wildlife & Parks commission has approved the use of lighted arrow nocks, although not without reservations.

On Friday, the FWP commission voted 3-1 to allow bowhunters to use lighted nocks during archery-only season, putting an end to the question that has cropped up repeatedly for the past five years.

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FWP, Livestock board may discuss anti-predator devices

A petition asking for a limit on use of anti-predator poisonous devices has been denied, but it’s still got livestock groups on the alert.

At the end of a brief Fish, Wildlife & Parks commission meeting Thursday, Zach Strong of the Natural Resources Defense Council expressed frustration over the commission’s rejection in May of an NRDC petition to limit trap threats to grizzly bears and other wildlife.

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Commission denies wolf-quota increase, forwards grizzly hunt

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks tried to justify a big jump in a Gardiner area wolf quota, but after lengthy public comment, the Fish and Wildlife commission didn’t buy it.

On a 3-1 vote, the commission decided against an FWP proposal to increase the quota in management unit 313 to six wolves, even though the six would be meted out over time. The period of September 4 through November 30 would have a limit of three wolves and another three would be allowed between December 1 and March 15.

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FWP commission considers conservation easements, land donation

Fish, Wildlife & Parks has been able to preserve some critical habitat thanks to Habitat Montana funds. But a legislative restriction on the money may cause FWP to lose some opportunity.

At Thursday’s meeting, FWP commissioners gave the go-ahead to start negotiations on four conservation easements and one donation of land that would benefit elk, mule deer and sage grouse and, in some cases provide additional access to public land.

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Commission approves elk shoulder seasons, reduced season near Gardiner

In many parts of the state, elk season will now last as long as six months.

On Thursday, the Fish, Wildlife & Parks commission sat through more than two hours of discussion and comments before approving, with a few modifications, the next round of elk shoulder seasons. For the next two years, rifle season will extend mostly from Aug. 15 until Feb. 15 in about 40 hunting districts. But outside the general season, hunters can harvest only cows.

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Landowners speak out against shoulder seasons

The new elk shoulder seasons will be tested in a handful of pilot projects this winter, but the seasons are getting pushback from the very people they were supposed to help: landowners.

On Thursday, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks commissioners approved five hunting districts for a late elk season this year but rejected FWP’s recent inclusion of a sixth district partly because of opposition from landowners in the district.

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