Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks had their final meeting Thursday night to present the tentative proposals to change the 2014-2015 hunting seasons.
Scott Hemmer, the Havre-area wildlife biologist, presented the proposals to attendees of the meeting at the Great Northern Inn and urged people to submit their comments about them before the deadline, 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24.
The proposals to change the mule deer hunting season would bring the most change in hunting seasons. The first proposal is to convert all general mule deer seasons to antlered-only. Population numbers for mule deer are down and this proposal for only hunting male mule deer is an attempt to boost those numbers up.
The second proposal for mule deer hunting is to eliminate mule deer B-licenses for antlerless deer.
The mule deer population is comparatively very low when compared to the pre-2010 numbers. The drop in both mule deer and white-tail deer is due to widespread disease, namely epizootic hemorrhagic disease, and the harsh winter the region experienced this season.
"Diseases are a thing we have to deal with," Hemmer said.
The proposal of changing the moose hunting season will split the current moose-hunting area into two zones. This will allow three either-sex permits to be issued for one zone and two in the other.
"There's some opportunity to harvest moose," Hemmer said and added the made the proposal in order to let hunters utilize that opportunity.
Most of the moose are younger bulls just moving through the area, Hemmer said. There has not been record of any permanent habitats in our region and not many have been harvested, though Fort Peck harvested 12 moose.
Proposals for big-horn sheep hunting would change boundaries in two areas in which they can be hunted and would reinstitute a big-horn sheep either-sex license.
There was a die-off in 1998, but the sheep have recovered and there are now 60 sheep in the area, Hemmer said.
There were no proposals to change elk seasons.
The final decision on the proposals will be made by a five-person committee Feb. 13.
"The committee will look at public comment," Hemmer said. "They pretty much read every comment, take them into consideration and make an informal decision."
Comments may be submitted online, on the FWP website, fwp.mt.gov. The proposals can be found under the "Hunting" tab on the website.