FWP CAC responds to elk hunting concerns
Issues north of Eureka
by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks
May 19, 2011
During recent years, several important issues, as well as elk numbers, have been growing north of Eureka. Landowners are concerned about the number of hunters shooting near their homes and worry about stray bullets and illegal trespassing. Hunters are concerned with increased hunting pressure and safety while hunting on public land. At the same time, area landowners have reported a growing number of problems regarding elk on agricultural areas and on the Nature Conservancy’s Dancing Prairie Preserve.
Located adjacent to the Canadian Border, most of these elk spend much of the year north of the border. Numbers of elk in the Tobacco Valley begin to swell in October, with approximately 600-700 elk present most of last winter. The elk are attracted by the area’s abundant bunchgrasses and sparse snowfall. Once hunting season is over, they are largely undisturbed all winter. In April, they begin dispersing to their calving areas, with 100-200 elk remaining year-round in the Tobacco Plains area.
In response to the above issues and concerns, several members of R-1 Citizen’s Advisory Committee and FWP personnel have met with local landowners and others to discuss potential solutions, including:
--The placement of large signs at key locations in the Tobacco Valley alerting hunters to the presence of private land and associated private land concerns;
--Better posting of private lands;
--Better communications and timelier reporting of incidents between landowners and area law enforcement personnel;
--Proposal to the FWP Commission of a late season hunt in 2012 for migratory antlerless elk to address resource damage concerns;
--Proposal to the FWP commission to potentially limit bull elk hunting in the Tobacco Plains area to permit holders only beginning in the 2012 general season.
This last option would be pursued only if conflicts during the general season continue and all other options fail. All proposed changes to the current season structure must be approved by the FWP Commission and will be subject to public comment during this coming fall and winter comment period. Individuals with questions may contact Tim Thier at 406-882-4697 or Jim Roberts at 406-250-1042.