Many hunting districts in Montana have a problem - too many elk. The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) reported that 14 districts have elk populations that are more than 200 percent above management objectives.

That overcrowding is affecting private lands, including farmers and ranchers. FWP Director Hank Worsech said in a news release, "What we know is the status quo isn't working. So, we're going to propose a few new strategies we think can finally help us make progress in addressing the problem, both for hunters and for landowners."

The current elk management plan is going under the microscope this year and the 14 overcrowded hunting districts could see some revisions, such as removing some or all limited either-sex permits. Hunting on eight of those districts would allow hunting either-sex only on public land and the quotas would face major adjustments. Those eight districts are: 411, 417, 426, 535, 590, 702, 704 and 705.Changes would affect the general archery and firearm seasons, and the muzzleloader season.

There are more moving parts to the possible elk hunting changes. The commission has an external working group developing a possible new elk plan. FWP wants to create another citizen group to explore hunter access issues. And the Private Land/Public Wildlife council will review any changes dealing with hunter access agreements.

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This is also the regular biennial review of seasons, and all changes would require approval from the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission, which is meeting December 14. The commission is expected to approve a regulation proposal which will be available for public opinion for 30 days. FWP In-person and virtual meetings will be held throughout Montana.

Worsech said, "It's time for people to bring their best ideas forward, and I want to hear from them. Don't just tell us what you don't like. I want to hear your ideas to improve the situation. I hope we can all see and realize a better day for landowners, hunters and the elk resource itself." More information on the FWP website.

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