Fish & Wildlife Commission Alters Sage-Grouse Hunting Season
The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission has barred sage-grouse hunting in all or part of 32 counties and shortened the hunting season from two months to one.
An earlier plan that would have closed the entire state to hunting the game birds due to their low numbers.
Instead, all or part of 13 counties in central Montana and six counties in the southwestern part of the state will be open to hunting from Sept. 1 through Sept. 30.
The state's management plan calls for an area's closure if sage grouse numbers drop below 45- percent of the long-term average for three years.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks spokesman, Ron Aasheim, says he doesn't doubt that some bird hunters are not happy with this decision:
" Yeah, I think there probably are (angry hunters), although I think that they're happier than they were a month-and-a half ago."
Aasheim points out that today's discussion focused on the fact that most in attendance agreed that hunting isn't a major part of the problem:
"Certainly (loss of) habitat is a big part of it. We consistently hear from other groups that predators and hunting are an issue, and after what I thought was really, really necessary and professional discussion -scientific information being gathered - this was the best proposal and the commission agreed."
The commission vote was 5-0.