FWP Proposes Statewide Hunting Restrictions - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

FWP Proposes Statewide Hunting Restrictions

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MISSOULA -

Wildlife agencies are hoping to make some big changes to hunting regulations, after deer populations dropped to new lows this season.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks will host 12 public meetings in January to collect opinions on the proposed changes.

Vivica Crowser, of FWP, said they want to limit hunters to only buying one tag for whitetail deer, and place more restrictions on where you can hunt does.

"What we're looking at in these proposals is more restrictive than it's been in  a very long time, maybe than ever in some places."

Crowser said this comes after several hundred whitetail deer in the Missoula area alone were hit by a virus called "EHD," dropping population numbers across the state.

"With mule deer, it's broader than Montana, it's a western states trend right now that the mule deer populations are dipping down," she said.

Mule deer hunting could be restricted to antlered only across the state to strengthen their numbers.

"It's like a beef herd or anything else, if it isn't managed, it goes one way or the other to extremes," said Missoula resident and longtime hunter Steve Adams.

Adams said he'll be happy to accommodate new regulations, as long as he can keep hunting.

"There's so much to see and so much to learn, the actual getting of the game, I've always looked at it as a bonus," he said.

Crowser said deer and elk population drops were also affected by an increase in predators throughout Montana.

"We've got wolves, black bears, grizzly bears in some spots, and mountain lion numbers that are all really strong," she explained.

Crowser said there are also more deer and elk on private land, and fewer on public lands.

She said they also plan to readjust the boundaries on hunting districts and issue more private only licenses to balance out those numbers.

"We'd like to have more animals on public land where hunters have access, where people have access to them, and off those private lands where they can cause damage," Crowser said.

FWP will collect public comment on the proposed changes through January 24, and submit their proposal in February.

To find out how to submit your input, click here.

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