MTPR

Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks

Divers with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and Montana FWP prepare to dive at Tiber Dam to look for adult zebra and/or quagga mussels, August 7, 2017.
Beth Saboe - MontanaPBS

Scuba divers from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have spent the past three days in north-central Montana, scouring the waters of Tiber Dam for any signs of aquatic invasive mussels.

Last October, a juvenile mussel was found in a water sample from Tiber Reservoir by the Bureau of Reclamation, and suspicious samples were discovered in Canyon Ferry Reservoir, near Townsend. Since then, the state has ramped up its efforts to stave off a potentially destructive infestation of non-native quaqqa and zebra mussels.

Man fishing in the Yellowstone River.
Flickr user: Mirrur Image (CC-BY-NC)

Warm water temperatures have triggered fishing restrictions on a 55 mile stretch of the Bitterroot River from Veteran’s Bridge on Highway 93 just north of Hamilton, downstream to the confluence with the Clark Fork in Missoula. The so-called ‘Hoot Owl’ restriction went into effect today.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Missoula-area Fisheries Manager Pat Saffel says those restrictions go into effect when river temperatures reach at least 73 degrees for three days in a row.

Yellowstone Grizzlies Removed From Threatened Species List

Jul 31, 2017
More than a month after announcing grizzlies in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem are no longer threatened, the USFWS officially handed over management of the approximately 700 bears to wildlife officials in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming.
(PD)

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. government lifted protections for grizzly bears in the Yellowstone region on Monday, though it will be up to the courts to decide whether the revered and fearsome icon of the West stays off the threatened species list.

Saskatchewan's CL215, or "super scooper," is decontaminated of potential invasive species after fighting the Bridge Coulee Fire on the east side of the continental divide.
Nicky Ouellet

Montana faces twin threats this summer: On land, crews are battling some of the biggest and most destructive fires in the country. In the water, officials are staving off the spread of invasive mussels that could cause millions of dollars of damage to hydropower dams and irrigation lines. These threats come together for wildland firefighters, who often use equipment that travels across the country and has the potential to carry invasive hitchhikers with it. But firefighters are tackling the potential contamination head on.

Grizzly bears in the NCDE  have been roaming far east of the Rocky Mountains following drainages, streams and food into the tan waves of farmland stretching out from the forest edges of the Rocky Mountain Front.
Josh Burnham

Last Thursday the Interior Department announced that it’s removing Yellowstone-area grizzly bears from the endangered species list. It’s expected that grizzlies in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) will be de-listed in 2020.

For the first time in a lifetime, grizzly bears in the NCDE  have been roaming far east of the Rocky Mountains following drainages, streams and food into the tan waves of farmland stretching out from the forest edges of the Rocky Mountain Front.  

In the town of Valier, where about 500 people live along a lake an hour and a half drive from the mountains to the west, the community is still adjusting to living among grizzlies.

Managers in Montana, Wyoming and Idaho have all said it's unlikely any grizzly hunting will be allowed in 2017.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

Montana, Wyoming and Idaho officials say they won't declare open season on grizzly bears once federal Endangered Species Act protections are lifted for them in the Yellowstone National Park region.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Thursday announced that it plans to de-list Yellowstone Grizzlies at the end of July. That means that the three states surrounding the park will take over jurisdiction of Yellowstone-area bears. Those states have already submitted management plans that allow for limited hunting.

Black bear
(PD)

As anyone who's read Winnie the Pooh will tell you, bears love honey. But in Montana, that love of honey and hives comes at a cost. Every year, a handful of black bears are shot and killed by beekeepers across the state. And while it’s perfectly legal, some think the law needs an update.

Livestock carcass composting site outside Wisdom, MT.
Courtesy of the Big Hole Watershed Committee

Livestock death is part of ranching. At some point, ranchers have to deal with dead animals, from things like difficult births, disease, and weather extremes. And in southwest Montana, those dead animals can also attract unwelcome visitors — wolves and black bears looking for an easy meal.

Montana Wildlife Officials Plan To Change The Way They Count Wolves

Jun 7, 2017
The new counting model uses hunter sightings to help map areas occupied by wolves
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (CC-BY-2)

Montana wildlife officials say the way they count wolves is too expensive and falls far short of an actual population estimate, so they plan to switch to a model that uses information gathered from hunters. Conservationists say they want to learn more about the new plan.

FWP has inspected more than 23,000 watercraft as part of its effort to keep the mussels, which can cause millions of dollars of damage to hydropower dams and irrigation systems, out of Montana’s waterways.
Katrin Frye

Montana officials say two boats carrying invasive mussels were stopped at watercraft inspection stations over the Memorial Day weekend.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks officials say one crossed into eastern Montana from the Great Lakes Region on May 26 bound for West Yellowstone. Staffers hot-washed the boat, which was then taken to Bozeman for a complete decontamination.

State and federal wildlife officials are investigating the shooting death of a male grizzly bear west of Whitefish.
PD

State and federal wildlife officials are investigating the shooting death of a male grizzly bear west of Whitefish.

Investigators with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks say the 4-year-old bear’s body was dumped over the Farm to Market Road bridge and into the Stillwater River sometime between May 25 and 28. It was then found downstream by recreationalists and retrieved by officials last Sunday.

A fisherman hooks a big one on the Clark Fork River.
Josh Burnham

Montana anglers will now have to purchase an Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention Pass — even if they've already bought a fishing license for 2017 — as part of a program passed by the Legislature and signed into law Thursday.

The passes are expected to generate $3.2 million dollars per year to be used in the fight against aquatic invasive species (AIS) that threaten the health of the state's waters.

'Cash Bill' Would Fund Veterans’ Home And University Renovations

Apr 13, 2017
(PD)

The Senate gave final approval today to a bill that would fund capital projects, like university system renovations and a veterans’ home in Butte, with money from state special revenue funds, grants and donations. 

Bringing bison back to the Blackfeet Reservation and their historic range on land that now belongs to the U.S. Forest Service, like the Badger-Two Medicine and Chief Mountain, is a vision eight years in the making.
(PD)

Last fall, the Blackfeet Tribe announced plans to reintroduce free-roaming bison to federal land outside its reservation. On Wednesday, the tribe met with state and federal agencies for the third time this year to hash out what that would look like.

Bison at the Stephens Creek Capture facility north of Yellowstone Park in 2015.
Jim Peaco (PD)

On Monday the Bozeman Daily Chronicle's Michael Wright reported that more than 570 Yellowstone National Park bison have been killed so far this winter. The Park is trying to reduce the size of its bison herd from an estimated 5,500 animals to about 3,000.

The annual slaughter happens as part of compromise between the Park Service and State of Montana, which says bison numbers need to be controlled to prevent the spread of the disease brucellosis to cattle. It's controversial, and there is an alternative.

Joining us now to talk about it is Amy Martin, who spent the last year reporting on bison for her podcast: Threshold.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife service is seeking comment on whether fishers deserve ESA protection.
(PD)

The Fish and Wildlife Service is revisiting whether fishers warrant protection under the Endangered Species Act.

On Friday the Service announced it is seeking comment on the status of the fisher - a member of the weasel family - in its distinct northern Rocky Mountain population for potential listing as a threatened or endangered species.

The comment period for the "quiet waters" initiative ends Feb. 12, 2017.
(PD)

The last of several public hearings on proposed changes to the way Montanans use motors on some streams and rivers happen tonight in Helena and Great Falls. There have been four public comment meetings on the "quiet waters" initiative so far.

Flickr user, Harold (cc-by-2.0)

The so-called Quiet Waters Initiative — a slew of proposals that could redefine recreation on some Montana rivers and streams — rocked the boat at the first of several public hearings this week hosted by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The agency is taking comment on nearly 30 proposed regulation changes that would limit horsepower, set seasonal restrictions and outright ban motorized watercraft along some rivers and stream segments that feed into the Clark Fork, Flathead, Yellowstone and Missouri Rivers.

Montana FWP Appeals Ethics Ruling Over Trapping Initiative

Jan 3, 2017

HELENA, Mont. (AP) — Montana's fish and wildlife agency is appealing a ruling that it violated the state's ethics laws by allowing equipment it owns to be used to advocate against a ballot initiative.

In November, Commissioner of Political Practices Jonathan Motl fined Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks $1,500 after finding the Montana Trappers Association used an FWP trailer and state-owned displays of furbearing animals to oppose the 2014 anti-trapping initiative. The measure never made it on the ballot, but was revived in 2016 and rejected by Montana voters.

Public Hearings Slated For 'Quiet Waters' Initiative
(PD)

An initiative to put new restrictions on motorized watercraft on some river segments in Montana gets public hearings across the state this week.

Backcountry Hunters and Anglers submitted the so-called "Quiet Waters Initiative" petition to Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks last March.

Courtesy Montana FWP

After putting in over 12 years and serving three governors, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department director Jeff Hagener retired this week.

A grizzly bear visiting a wire hair snag station near Glacier National Park.
Glacier National Park (PD)

The grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE) have spoken, and they are telling us that everything we’re doing to recover their population has worked. That was the message from state and federal bear experts at the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee Winter Meeting today in Missoula.

Gov. Steve Bullock. File photo.
Corin Cates-Carney

A month after his reelection, Governor Steve Bullock today announced new people will be running nearly half of his appointed cabinet director positions in his second term.

Bullock announced the exit of six cabinet members during a press conference in the state Capitol today. So far, he’s made picks to fill half the vacancies.

Fisheries biologists checking for adult invasive mussels.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

WEST GLACIER, Mont. (AP) — Glacier National Park officials have temporarily closed boating on park lakes as a precautionary response to the discovery of larvae from invasive mussels in Montana waters for the first time.

'Deer Here' sign at Montana Department of Transportation Composting Facility.
NORA SAKS/MTPR

It’s roadkill season in Montana.

Pete Servel is standing on the shoulder of a busy section of Interstate 90, about ten miles east of Missoula. Clad in an orange helmet and matching neon vest, he carries a shovel in his blue rubber-gloved hands and hunches over a pile of faceless fur and dried blood.

According to Montana FWP, someone killed a moose near Bigfork and took the two hind quarters and the head, abandoning the rest.
(PD)

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is seeking information about a moose poaching found over the weekend near Bigfork.

FWP spokesperson John Fraley says someone killed a moose and took the two hind quarters and the head, abandoning the rest.

Fish-Killing Parasite Found In 7 More Montana Rivers

Oct 20, 2016
A fish-killing disease prompted the closure of 180 miles of the Yellowstone River and hundreds of miles of tributaries in August 2016.
Courtesy Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — A parasite that caused a major die-off of mountain whitefish in the Yellowstone River has been found in seven other rivers in Montana.

Grizzly bear at Swan Lake Flats in Yellowstone National Park.
Jim Peaco (PD)

State wildlife officials believe a grizzly bear is responsible for an attack on a man outside Whitefish yesterday evening. The man was walking with his adult daughter and two dogs on F.H. Stoltze property in the Haskill Basin area when they unknowingly separated a sow from her two cubs.

Voters this November will decide the future of traps and snares on Montana’s public lands. A proposal to end commercial and recreational trapping on Montana’s public lands will appear on November’s ballot.
Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks

This November, Montanans will vote to decide the future of a long-standing Montana tradition: trapping on public lands.

Ballot initiative I-177 would ban commercial and recreational trapping on public lands, which make up about a third of Montana. Trapping would still be legal on private lands, and the initiative would allow Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to trap nuisance or diseased animals on public lands. 

A fish-killing disease prompted the closure of 180 miles of the Yellowstone River and hundreds of miles of tributaries in August 2016.
Courtesy Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

A section of the Yellowstone River from Yellowstone National Park downstream to Laurel was closed starting August 19 by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks after thousands of dead mountain whitefish began appearing on the river’s banks.

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