Montana Fish, Wildlife
and Parks is seeking
comment on a potential
bighorn sheep transplant
proposal for three areas in
Southwest Montana.
The proposed transplant
areas include the Bull
Mountains north of
Whitehall, Lewis and
Clark Caverns State Park,
and Doherty Mountain,
just north of the caverns.

“These areas were
selected, in part, because there would
likely be an interchange of bighorns
among the three areas,” said FWP
Wildlife Biologist Tom Carlsen, the
project leader. “[They were] occupied
by bighorns historically, and our
habitat modeling indicates [they] can
support 200-300 sheep.”

One of the statewide objectives in
FWP’s recently completed Bighorn
Sheep Conservation Strategy is to
establish five new populations over
the course of the next 10 years and to
augment populations where appropriate.

“Should this proposal move forward,
the effort would help meet this objective
and help a struggling bighorn
sheep population,” Carlsen said.

If approved, bighorn sheep would
be captured from existing Montana
populations and moved to release
sites, perhaps as soon as this winter.
Stocking may take several years and
depend on availability of surplus
sheep, Carlsen said.

Wildlife managers are looking at the
proximity of domestic sheep and goats
to potential bighorn habitat, and the
potential for adequate bighorn hunting
access.

The public involvement process for this
proposal, which is outlined in the conservation
strategy, includes an initial
public scoping effort, followed by an
environmental assessment and a public
meeting. An agreement with the major
landowners nearby is required.

Final approval of the proposal is by the
FWP Commission, which will include
public comment opportunities.

Montana’s Bighorn Sheep Conservation
Strategy is available online. Visit
FWP’s Web site at fwp.mt.gov. Search
for “Bighorn Sheep.”

FWP will take public comment of
associated issues through Sept. 12.
Comments can be submitted in writing
to Montana FWP, P.O. Box 998,
Townsend, MT 59644 or by email to
Tom Carlsen at tcarlsen@mt.gov.

from the FWP wire services