Elk

Elk are seen in this undated photo from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Montana wildlife officials have decided to replace a few late elk seasons in the southwestern region with a new license that shortens the bonus time for chasing antlerless elk.

The state Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the new licenses for three districts in Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ Region 3 — 390, 391 and 393 — for the next hunting season.

The new permit will be an over-the-counter B license, meaning it will apply only to antlerless elk and can be purchased at any time. The licenses will allow elk hunting in the districts until Jan. 1.

That extended season replaces late shoulder seasons — elk hunting on private land either before or after the general season that’s meant to reduce elk numbers. It also shortens the extended seasons — late shoulder seasons can run until Feb. 15.

Fish and Wildlife commissioners reviewed shoulder seasons across the state on Thursday, allowing some to go forward as-is and tweaking others. Several others were also replaced with the new licenses, which aren’t valid on U.S. Forest Service land or on FWP’s wildlife management areas.

FWP had originally proposed eliminating shoulder seasons in 390, 391 and 393, saying the seasons weren’t meeting the goal. But the commission didn’t want to do away with the extra elk hunting entirely.

Districts 390 and 391 are north of Bozeman, with 390 beginning at Sixteenmile Creek and going north. District 391 covers land east of Canyon Ferry Lake.

District 393 covers the western half of the Shields Valley north of Livingston.

An early shoulder season was added for district 311. The season focuses on the area west of Bozeman and north of Norris Road where some are concerned about potential brucellosis transmission.

The season for district 309 was also extended on both ends. The district covers the Bozeman urban area. It had an elk season that lasted until Jan. 15 before, but now it has an early shoulder season and the late season is extended another month.

District 317 is keeping its season dates as-is. The district is in Park County, covering the east side of the Paradise Valley.

The season in 312 — the district north of Belgrade — will go unchanged.

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

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