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Extended Montana Elk Season A Success
December 30, 2008.
From Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks:
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has broken new ground in the use of general hunting season extensions. This year’s extension in Region 3 was the longest ever implemented by the department. It was also the first time FWP tracked daily elk harvest via telephone call-in while it was occurring in order to be responsive to concerns about over-harvest.
Based on a preliminary estimate, 1,840 elk were harvested in southwest Montana during the general season extension from Dec. 1-21.
Approximately 1,411 antlerless elk and 424 bulls were harvested across the 18 extended hunting districts. Pre-established harvest quotas were not reached in any extended area. Final harvest estimates will be determined following completion of statewide harvest surveys.
The mix of unseasonably warm and dry weather and public access difficulties prompted the decision to extend the general season in areas where elk numbers were over objective and where elk harvest was much lower than desired.
Harvest quotas for elk, with a particular focus on bulls, were set based on a five-year average harvest as determined by harvest surveys and check station data.
“Pre-established bull harvest quotas were not exceeded in any extended season area,” said Kurt Alt, Regional Wildlife Manager. “Harvest approached the bull quota, first in hunting district 314 and shortly after in the other extended areas. Ultimately, all extended areas were closed to bull hunting in response and in advance of forecasted severe winter weather.”
“FWP was conservative in applying the closures to avoid exceeding the bull quota,” added Alt.
Hunters should expect to see continued elk harvest opportunities in various areas of Region 3 through management seasons and game damage hunts until Feb. 15, 2009, including in hunting districts 360 and 362.
Hunters needed to sign up by July 15 for management season and game damage hunting opportunities through FWP’s game damage roster.
For more information on the game damage roster, visit http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/licensedraw/damage.aspx.