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FWP tackles new elk management plan

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Bull elk searches for food beneath the snow. NPS PHOTO / Jacob W. Frank

Stakeholders to be involved in process

MONTANA FISH, WILDLIFE & PARKS

HELENA – During the recent hunting season-setting process, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks heard from people across the state with opinions and ideas about the challenges facing elk management in Montana. As FWP embarks on developing a new elk management plan, staff are looking at ways to address those challenges.

“We heard from so many people during our season-setting process and many of them had good ideas,” said FWP director Hank Worsech in a Feb. 16 press release. “We are now looking at ways to look at those ideas and see what can help us address some of the challenges we face.”

Using the guiding principles that the Elk Management Plan Initial Guidance Citizens Group developed in 2020, FWP will engage with hunters and landowners to create a plan that will be the foundation for elk management across the state.

While the new plan is being developed, FWP will continue work with the Private Lands Public Wildlife Council to evaluate 454 elk hunting access agreements and other statutory programs that direct FWP’s work with landowners to enhance public access. The PLPW will also review hunter/landowner stewardship programs and help FWP develop outreach to landowners and hunters to help improve relationships and access.

FWP is also creating an Elk Management Citizen Advisory Group. This group will be a citizen-led effort to develop recommendations to address elk management challenges like over-objective elk herds, new disease concerns, calls for more access, reports of crowded public lands and more people than ever coming to the state.

The advisory group’s effort, along with the work of PLPW will be reflected in the final elk management plan, which should be done by the summer of 2023.

“We do have a lot of work ahead of us and I hope people will continue to follow what we’re doing and stay engaged,” Worsech said.

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