FWP proposes small bison hunting closure near Gardiner

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is seeking public comment on a proposal to close a small portion of Hunt District 385 in Beattie Gulch near Gardiner, Montana, and on the border of Yellowstone National Park to bison hunting due to safety concerns.

The proposed closure is out for public comment now and will be decided upon by the Fish and Wildlife Commission at an Oct. 17 meeting in Helena.

Bison season opens Nov. 15.

Between 200 and 300 bison are harvested every year within a small quarter-mile-square area at the mouth of Beattie Gulch within the proposed closure, and the density of hunters has increased beyond what FWP considers safe. It is common for 20 to 30 or more hunters to shoot simultaneously as groups of bison cross the boundary from Yellowstone National Park into this area. The objective of this proposal is to implement measures for hunter safety while maintaining fair chase hunter opportunity and success in the rest of the hunting district.

A primary corridor for bison migrating north of Yellowstone Park is through Beattie Gulch, and hunters congregate here to take advantage of migrating herds. This proposal would only impact state hunters, not tribal hunters exercising off-reservation treaty rights. FWP issued 40 licenses for the Gardiner Basin portion of HD 385 to state hunters this year.

Comments on the proposal will be taken until Oct. 12, at 5 p.m., and at the commission meeting on Oct. 17. Comments can be submitted online at fwp.mt.gov.

BSSHA seeks remaining funding for rink refrigeration

EBS Staff

The Big Sky Skating and Hockey Association, which operates the Big Sky community ice rink, received a $197,500 challenge grant from the Big Sky Resort Area Tax District during the June 2018 appropriations process. The contract stipulated that the BSSHA must raise $111,500 toward the total project cost of $309,000, before receiving resort tax funding.

Although BSSHA has confirmed that they have raised enough money to order key components of a refrigeration system, they still need to raise additional funds in order to fulfill all aspects of their refrigeration plan. This includes the purchase of a Zamboni to replace their current one, which is 41 years old.

“The support of the BSSHA by the community has been overwhelming, but we still have a way to go if we are going to fully achieve our goals,” said Big Sky Skating and Hockey Association President, Ryan Blechta. “We are very optimistic that we can do that in time for the coming season.”

A major concern for the hockey and skating organization is the energy costs of operating the refrigeration system, which is not yet known. To mitigate that uncertainty, the resort tax board will be providing up to $22,000 towards energy costs of the first year of operation.

Blechta also said BSSHA has been coordinating with the Big Sky Community Organization on the refrigeration project. “The BSCO has an exciting plan to improve Town Center Park and has been working closely with us to make sure that our rink works well with their plan.”

Visit bssha.org to donate.

Horse shootings west of Four Corners under investigation

EBS STAFF

On Sept. 16, a horse belonging to Jake’s Horses was shot in a pasture near mile marker 17 on Norris Road.

The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office is investigating after the 2-year-old gelding named Gatsby was found with a gunshot wound in which a bullet fragmented and passed through his neck. This was the third horse shot in the neck in the same pasture during the last six months. All of the animals have survived their injuries.

The sheriff’s office declined to comment because the incidents are part of an ongoing investigation. Shooting a horse is a felony offense in Montana.

“At first, the sheriff’s department thought the first two incidents might have been accidental or coincidental. After the first two shootings in March and May there was a gap,” said Julie Grimm-Lisk, manager of Jake’s Horses. “But after this third shooting, the sheriff’s office believes these are intentional and deliberate.”

Jake’s Horses is a year-round professional outfitter and guiding company that’s been based out of Big Sky for more than 40 years.

“It’s a remote pasture, so we don’t expect to catch the person, or get a confession,” Grimm-Lisk said. “But people are paying attention now, so hopefully that will dissuade the person or persons responsible from continuing to injure innocent animals. People have reached out to me from across to state to say, ‘What kind of person does that?’”

Anyone with information about the incidents or who might be involved is asked to call the sheriff’s office at (406) 582-2100.

Applications being accepted for Madison River rule-making committee

EBS STAFF

The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ Fish and Wildlife Commission is accepting comment on and applications for the proposed independent Madison River Negotiated Rulemaking Committee.

Once finalized, the committee will help develop administrative rule language that could affect commercial and recreational use of the Madison River.

The public can comment on the Fish and Wildlife Commission’s decision to form the committee and use negotiated rule making for this effort. Comments on the process and applications for the committee must be received by Oct. 22.

The commission is seeking applications from people willing to serve on a diverse committee of stakeholders with various recreation interests in the Madison River and those affected by recreation management decisions. Eight to 10 people will be appointed to the committee.

Application materials are posted on the FWP website. Click on the “Recreation” tab and look under “Recreation Management.”

Interested parties can submit their application to Madison River Negotiated Rulemaking Committee, Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks, 1400 S. 19th Ave., Bozeman, MT, 59718; or by email to madisonrivercom@mt.gov. People may submit their views and comments concerning the proposed negotiated rulemaking process to the same address and email.

Applications and comments must be received no later than Oct. 22. Selection of committee members will be completed by Dec. 7.