Technical issues affect online license sales
Due to a host of technical difficulties, many hunters who were trying to purchase nonresident Surplus Elk Combo licenses online were unable to complete their transactions.
Over the next 10 days, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will be contacting by email and phone those customers who attempted to purchase this license between 5 and 5:30 a.m. on May 6. Those customers will be given the opportunity to complete the purchase of their Elk Combo license.
FWP will also be addressing its processes for future surplus license sales to ensure a better transaction experience for its customers.
Additionally, FWP will no longer be offering sign-ups on the alternates list for Big Game Combo licenses, however the list for Deer Combo licenses will still be available.
For further information, contact the FWP licensing office at 406-444-2950.
New law allows recovery of bighorn sheep skulls, horns
With the passage of Senate Bill 344 into law, it is now legal to pick up and possess the skulls and horns of bighorn sheep that died of natural causes. Those who recover horns and/or skulls must report the find to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks within 48 hours and present it to FWP for inspection and plugging within 10 days. The fee for inspection and plugging is $25.
Recovery of bighorn skulls and horns is still prohibited at Montana State Parks and the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. In addition, certain restrictions may apply to National Parks and other National Fish & Wildlife Service lands; these land management agencies should be contacted directly about any restrictions.
Recovered bighorn sheep skulls and horns may not be sold, bartered or purchased and may not be transferred to another person without a permit issued from FWP. FWP may suspend the recovery of horns and skulls in an area if a disease-related die-off event occurs. Natural caused death does not include animals that were accidentally killed, captured, taken or struck by a vehicle.
The term “horn” means the hollow horn sheath of a male mountain sheep, either attached to the skull or separated from the skull. Those who find a big horn sheep skull or horns can call the FWP regional headquarters, area offices or warden or biologist to report their find.
Unlawful recovery and possession of horns and skulls from mountain sheep can result in a significant fine, up to $30,000 in restitution, imprisonment, or both, and the potential forfeiture of any current Montana hunting, fishing and trapping licenses and the privilege thereof for a period of time set by the court.
As a reminder, Montana’s Wildlife Management Units open May 15; please remember that Montana law prohibits the capture, feeding, possession and harassment of wildlife—both game and nongame species.
Start planning for a WHIP grant application
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks encourages prospective Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program (WHIP) grant applicants to start planning now. The grant application period will be open from Oct. 1 to Dec. 15, 2019, to be considered for funding in 2020.
The purpose of WHIP is to accomplish large-scale restoration of private and publicly owned, high-priority wildlife habitats through noxious weed management. The program can annually allocate up to $2 million of federal Wildlife Restoration Act funds to support restoration work through noxious weed control. Grant expenditures are limited to herbicide, mechanical, biocontrol, and re-seeding treatments, specifically to restore wildlife habitat functions. The program can also pay for range infrastructure to improve livestock grazing management for restoring native wildlife habitats and reducing susceptibility to noxious weed invasion.
Grant awards are based on eligibility and competitive ranking. To qualify for funding, projects must enhance ecologically important wildlife habitat through control or management of noxious weeds that directly threaten habitat functions; use a landscape scale approach; have a reasonable probability of treatment effectiveness; and include a minimum 25 percent cash match of non-federal dollars. In addition to considering eligibility factors, ranking criteria includes number of funding partners and amount of contributions, number of landowners involved, and accessibility of participating lands for public hunting. Awarded grants can be structured to provide funding for up to five years.
Cooperative weed projects involving multiple landowners require coordination and planning. Interested local cooperative groups should also contact their county weed district and the local FWP wildlife biologist for assistance with planning for a WHIP project.
Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day is May 17
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will join boating professionals and outdoor enthusiasts to heighten awareness of different life jacket styles and demonstrate their comfort and versatility by wearing them to work on Friday, May 17, for Wear Your Life Jacket to Work Day.
The annual event, hosted by the National Safe Boating Council, is a fun, educational element just prior to National Safe Boating Week, May 18-24, the official launch of the 2019 Safe Boating Campaign. Educating the boating public about the safety and comfort of life jackets is a focus of the campaign.
The National Safe Boating Council is asking all participants to take a photo of themselves in their life jacket while at work and post it to the “Ready, Set, Wear It” Facebook page. Participants are also encouraged to tweet their photo using #lifejacket2work.
U.S. Coast Guard statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of death in four out of every five recreational boating fatalities in 2017 and approximately 84.5 percent of those who drowned were not wearing life jackets.