Hunting in Bear Canyon

A hunter looks through a pair of binoculars while searching for deer in the Gallatin National Forest south of Bozeman.

State wildlife officials are reviewing and reconfiguring Montana’s hunting regulations this year, and they’re taking public comment on their proposals.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks revisits the state’s hunting regulations every two years, and the changes made this winter would go into effect for the 2020 and 2021 hunting seasons.

The changes run the gamut, including tweaks to elk shoulder seasons. Shoulder seasons offer hunters extra time to chase antlerless elk either before or after the five-week general rifle season in an effort to reduce elk numbers.

Morgan Jacobsen, FWP spokesman, said the agency is proposing keeping two of the southwestern region’s shoulder seasons the same — the ones in hunting districts 312 and 317. Hunting District 312 is north of Belgrade and district 317 covers a swath of the Paradise Valley.

The one in districts 309 and 311, which include Bozeman and land west of town, are proposed to continue with a few changes, Jacobsen said. He added that the elk population has been reduced below wildlife managers’ goals for the two districts.

Meanwhile, the agency has proposed ending the shoulder seasons in districts 390, 391 and 393 because they aren’t meeting state standards for having the extra weeks of hunting. District 393 covers Park County north of Livingston and west of the Shields River. The other two are toward Townsend.

FWP is accepting public comment on the proposals until Jan. 22.

On Friday, FWP’s Region 3 office, based in Bozeman, announced dates for six meetings around the region set for early next year. The meetings will run from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and are scheduled as follows:

n Jan. 7: Helena, Montana WILD, 2668 Broadwater Ave.

n Jan. 8: Whitehall, Whitehall High School, 1 Yellowstone Trail

n Jan. 9: Dillon, Beaverhead Search and Rescue, 1000 Hwy. 41

n Jan. 14: Butte, Butte Brewing Company, 465 E. Galena St.

n Jan. 15: Livingston, Elks Club, 130 S. 2nd St.

n Jan. 16: Bozeman, FWP Region 3 headquarters, 1400 S. 19th Ave.

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

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