Spring FWP News

Pursuit of a Unique Quarry
Beginning on November 15, 2005, thirty-four Montana sportsmen and women got the chance to participate in a unique hunting experience. With the start of Montana’s first bison hunt in 15 years, these hunters admirably pursued their quarry with the whole world watching. Media outlets from across the United States and the world converged near Gardiner and West Yellowstone to document the hunt.

George “Buddy” Clement, Jr., a 17-year-old from Belgrade and the first to harvest a bison, was literally swarmed by print, radio, and television journalists scrambling to capture the images and emotions of the hunt.

The hunt ended successfully on February 15, 2006, with 40 bison harvested during the 90-day season. The general public filled 34 tags and six Montana Native American hunters also took bison. With the season over, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks will evaluate the hunt and seek input from hunters and the public about the season. The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission will make a decision sometime during the summer of 2006 about future bison hunts in Montana. For more information about the hunt and bison management and conservation in Montana, visit fwp.mt.gov/hunting/bison.html.

Hunter Education: Preserving Tradition
Montana has an extensive and strong hunting heritage and tradition. According to a recent Billings Gazette article, the state has the highest level of hunting participation in the nation with 24 percent of its residents hunting each year. With an aim to continue this tradition and maintain the ranks, hunter and bowhunter education classes will begin soon around the state. Why is this important? Because any person born after January 1, 1985 is required to present a certificate showing completion of a hunter education course when purchasing any hunting license. This certificate can be from the Montana hunter education program or from any other state or province. For bowhunters, a certificate showing completion of a National Bowhunter Education Foundation course is required. Check our website at fwp.mt.gov/default.html for more information about spring hunter and bowhunter education classes and schedules.

Restoring a Montana Native
Ever heard of a fish called the fluvial Arctic grayling? Lewis and Clark made note of these “new kind of white or silvery trout” in the Beaverhead River in 1805. The Arctic grayling is a species native to northern North America. The only populations native to the lower 48 states were once found in Michigan and Montana. The Michigan population is now extinct and the fluvial or river-dwelling population in Montana has declined significantly in range and abundance. Once widespread throughout the upper Missouri River drainage as far downstream as Great Falls, the remaining confirmed and viable population resides in the Big Hole River of southwest Montana.

Due to its decline, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service classified grayling in the upper Missouri River drainage as a “candidate” species under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). In order to restore the declining population, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks—in cooperation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and private landowners in the Big Hole Valley—is working on a plan. Under a program called Candidate Conservation Agreements with Assurances, landowners can sign voluntarily agreements to implement conservation measures on their lands to protect grayling. In return, if the species is listed under the ESA, landowners are offered the assurance that they will not be required to do anything more than what was agreed to previously. The idea behind the program is that participants—in this case Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks and private landowners—ultimately contribute cooperatively to stabilizing or restoring fluvial Arctic grayling in Montana.

For more information about fluvial Arctic grayling or the Candidate Conservation with Assurances program, visit fwp.mt.gov/wildthings/concern/grayling.html or mountain-prairie.fws.gov/species/fish/grayling/grayling.htm.

Melissa Frost is the FWP Region 3 Information and Education Manager.