FWP briefs and news

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Access tax credit program March deadline

Landowners have until March 15 to submit applications to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks for enrollment in the Unlocking Public Lands Program.

This program is designed to provide recreational public access to state or federal (Bureau of Land Management or United States Forest Service) land where no legal public access currently exists.

In exchange for access across their private lands, landowners will receive a tax credit in the amount of $750 per agreement and up to a maximum of $3,000 tax credit per year.

Landowners decide how the public may cross their private property and may limit access to foot traffic only.

The Unlocking Public Lands program is a product of the 2015 Legislature, which expanded a program called Unlocking State Land passed by the previous legislature. While Montana contains nearly 31 million acres of BLM, USFS, and state land, much of this land requires landowner permission to cross private land to reach the adjoining state or federal land.

More information about the program, including enrollment criteria and the application form, can be found at http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/hunterAccess/unlockingPublicLands/

FWP WHIP Council meeting Feb. 5

The Montana Wildlife Habitat Improvement Program advisory council will meet at Montana WILD in Helena, 2668 Broadwater Ave., at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 5.

The council will meet to discuss program administration and make funding recommendations to Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks for grant applications submitted in December. A public comment period is scheduled for the afternoon session.

WHIP was established during the 2017 Legislature to set aside up to $2 million of federal Pittman-Robertson funding for the purpose of wildlife habitat restoration work in the form of noxious weed management. The program focuses on landscape-scale projects involving multiple landowners working together to solve noxious weed issues on priority habitats.

Mountain lion hunting closures in Regions 1, 2 and 4

The hunting of male mountain lions in northwestern Montana hunting district 102, which includes portions of Flathead and Lincoln counties closed Jan. 14.

The hunting of female mountain lions in southwestern Montana hunting districts 350 and 370, which includes portions of Silver Bow and Jefferson counties, also closed Jan. 14.

The hunting of female mountain lions in central Montana hunting districts 416, 446, 449, 451, 452 and 454, which include portions of Cascade, Meagher, Lewis & Clark and Judith Basin counties, closed Jan. 14.

The order halting the hunts came shortly after Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks officials received word that the pre-established harvest sub-quotas for lions in the districts listed above had been met.

To check Montana’s harvest and quota statuses, go to http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/status/, or call the toll-free number at 1-800-385-7826.

FWP monitors wolf situation in Cooke City

In recent weeks, wolves moving in and out of Yellowstone National Park have been seen frequently in and around the communities of Cooke City and Silver Gate. Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is monitoring the situation.

Two weeks ago, wolves killed a domestic dog at night outside of a home in Cooke City. Wolves have also been seen repeatedly on streets in Cooke City, including Main Street, side streets and the Bannock Trail. All sightings in town that FWP is aware of have been at night.

At this point, FWP has no reports of wolves in the area approaching humans.

However, the wolves’ behavior is concerning. Their traveling in and among buildings in Cooke City increases their likelihood of injuring or killing another pet, and exposure to human development and surroundings leave them vulnerable to escalating habituation, such as getting fed or a food reward.

Feeding wildlife is illegal, and in the case of predators, it can be dangerous. To date, FWP has no evidence of feeding or baiting wolves in the area. All pet food should be kept indoors.

Montana law allows citizens to protect themselves, livestock, and dogs from wolves. If a wolf is on private property and is posing a potential threat to human safety, livestock, or dogs, a landowner may kill a wolf without a license. On public or private land, a person may kill a wolf that is in the act of attacking, killing, or threatening a person or livestock, or attacking or killing a domestic dog. The landowner must report these incidents to FWP.

For more information, contact the FWP office in Bozeman at 994-4042.

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