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Montana’s state wildlife agency has decided to close its regional offices amid fears of the spread of the new coronavirus.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced that it was closing its offices around the state beginning at 5 p.m. Friday to protect the public and the agency’s staff from the spread of COVID-19.

March is one of the busiest times of year for FWP offices because it’s when people can buy new hunting and fishing licenses and apply for special tags. FWP had already been encouraging people to purchase licenses online, but FWP director Martha Williams said in a news release that there had still been “robust” traffic in FWP offices this month.

She said despite the closure, FWP staff would still be able to help customers with questions by phone or by email.

The closures will remain in place for “the foreseeable future,” according to the news release.

License buyers can still purchase them at certain retailers around the state, though even some of those businesses have been asking people to buy licenses online instead of stopping by.

FWP will mail carcass tags to hunters who purchased them online. FWP also said it will mail licenses to people who have had trouble printing them in the past two weeks.

Hunters have until April 1 to apply for deer and elk licenses.

The decision comes the same week FWP closed some of its visitor centers and other public facilities. The agency has also canceled a few public meetings in an effort to help stem the spread of the virus.

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Michael Wright can be reached at mwright@dailychronicle.com or at 582-2638.