Notes from March 2016 General Meeting

March 28, 2016

Headwaters Sportsman Association

March 2016 Meeting Summary

FW&P Building, Bozeman

About twenty people showed up for the HSA meeting. Starting at 6:00, each person introduced themselves. I then gave a brief review of how I use emails to communicate with HSA members on a regular basis. I also said that I had extended condolences from HSA to Region 3 FW&P personnel in regard to the tragic loss of Jen, Joe and Danny Knarr. The loss of the two wardens and their infant son has caused pain and anguish for many. We will do what we can to help heal our community.


The floor was then turned over to our guest speaker Julie Cunningham, Region 3 (west side) Wildlife Biologist. Using PowerPoint slides, she led a very productive discussions of the current state of affairs for bighorn sheep, elk and mule deer. Sheep seem to be doing well and the transplant efforts in the Madison Range seem to be working.


Elk are doing well in most districts except the Gallatin Canyon, where they still struggle. Also elk distribution in HD311 has become very problematic. They may need significant management in the coming year if the distribution patterns are the same as they were this winter.


The Bridger Mountain mule deer herd is doing fair and producing solid fawn numbers in most years some four-point bucks are seen during flight surveys.


Shoulder seasons were still a major topic of discussion for those present. It was concluded that our focus going forward would be to look closely at the data to make certain that shoulder-season criteria were being met. The data needed to evaluate the criteria are currently not available but should be within a few months. The other big game species were also briefly discussed.


Karen Loveless, Region 3 Wildlife Biologist (east side) then covered topics from her districts. The elk herd just north of Yellowstone National Park is still in need of help. The topic of wolf quota numbers was part of this discussion. Karen Loveless pointed out that the wolf tentative regulations would be introduced at the May Commissioners meeting with final action being taken in July. She and I will keep HSA members informed of the comment periods as best we can. Karen Loveless also provided information on brucellosis elk hunts and harvest numbers from tribal hunters.


Throughout the two biologists’ presentations, almost all people present had questions and/or comments to make about the topics at hand. The discussions were very productive in my opinion. It is impressive how “up to speed” and informed those attending the meeting are when it comes to southwest Montana’s wildlife.


The meeting was extended beyond 8:00 so that Kurt Alt could present a state-wide plan to coordinate the efforts of the various “rod and gun” clubs. He has been approached to contact the clubs that represent hunters and anglers and see if they would be interested in co-sponsoring one or two pieces of legislation for the upcoming Legislature which will start in January 2017. Kurt Alt thought that initiatives to get money back into supporting access and/or habitat would be topics that all clubs could support. The general consensus was to proceed with Kurt Alt’s proposal.


The meeting was adjourned around 9 but many small group discussion ensued until Julie Cunningham and I ran the last stragglers out at 10:00.


Shannon Taylor, PhD


Bozeman, MT