Watercraft Inspection

A watercraft inspector sprays down a boat using a decontamination station pressure washer. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks aquatic invasive species inspection stations will close for the season on Oct. 15.

Thom Bridge, thom.bridge@helenair.com

Inspection stations to close, rules remain

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks aquatic invasive species inspection stations will close for the season on Oct. 15. Boaters that are still in need of an inspection can receive one at a regional FWP office.

Water temperatures in both Tiber and Canyon Ferry Reservoirs will be below the levels to allow invasive mussels to spawn, dramatically reducing the threat of mussel spread.

This year AIS inspection stations around Montana inspected more than 73,000 watercraft and intercepted 16 invasive mussel-fouled boats. More than 80 citations were issued mainly for failing to stop at inspection stations.

Although FWP and partner organizations and agencies have operated watercraft inspection around the state for several years, the discovery of mussel larvae in water samples from Tiber Reservoir last fall and a suspect sample from Canyon Ferry Reservoir prompted a significant expansion in Montana’s AIS prevention efforts.

Watercraft owners, both local and from out of state, were very cooperative stopping at inspection stations. Inspections quick and easy when boaters practice Clean Drain and Dry.

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Practice bear aware behavior

Antelope rifle season is in full swing, archery season is still underway and the general big game season starts Oct. 21. It’s important for all hunters to practice bear aware behavior.

In Montana, bear country can be anywhere in the western half of the state and sometimes beyond. Recently grizzly bears have shown up in places they haven’t been for decades -- the Big Belt Mountains west of White Sulphur Springs for instance.

Archery and bird hunters need to understand they could be in close proximity to bears even if they’re miles away from the Rocky Mountain Front or other commonly known grizzly bear habitat, like the greater Yellowstone area.

This is a critical time of year to be bear aware.

Most grizzly bears will typically leave an area if they sense human presence. Hunters who observe a grizzly bear or suspect a bear is nearby should leave the area. If you do encounter a grizzly, stay calm, don't run, and assess the situation by trying to determine if the bear is actually aware of you. Is it, for instance, threatening or fleeing? Always keep the bear in sight as you back away, and leave the area.

For more on bears, visit FWP's website at fwp.mt.gov; then click Be Bear Aware. Bear resistant products are described on the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee's website at www.igbconline.org. A “How to Hunt Safely in Grizzly Country” brochure is also available at FWP regional offices.

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Paving project at Black Sandy rescheduled

Montana State Parks has announced that the entrance road to Black Sandy State Park on Hauser Lake will be closed temporarily for a paving project on Monday, Oct. 16, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The park will be open by walk-in access and parking is available in the overflow lot or day use lot along Hauser Dam Road. The project was originally planned for Sept. 28 but was rescheduled.

For more information, contact Craig Putchat at 495-3270.

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TIP-MONT works 24-7 to stop poachers

Montana's outdoor crime-stopper help line, TIP-MONT, has an online option to report poachers and other hunting-season violators.

Now alert citizens can report poaching and violations of hunting regulations by going to the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov. Click "TIP-MONT" to use the online report form.

The online service isn't a real-time TIP-MONT connection, the reports are checked several times a week. Online TIP-MONT reports remain confidential and are managed under the same guidelines that protect all crime-stopper callers.

TIP-MONT callers most often report violations of Montana's hunting rules and regulations. Other important calls pertain to vandalism at Montana state parks and on public lands.

Here are some of the most common hunting season violations reported:

  • Failure to obtain permission from landowners before hunting on private property.
  • Wasting any part of a game animal suitable for food.
  • Failure to properly validate a license or tag, or securely fasten it visibly to a game. animal immediately after it is taken and before it is moved or transported from the kill site.
  • Taking game from the wrong hunting district.
  • Using someone else's tag on a harvest game animal.
  • Failure to leave evidence of sex attached.

Callers to 1-800-TIP-MONT, and those who file reports online, may remain anonymous and may be eligible for a cash award of up to $1,000 if the information leads to a conviction.

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FWP increases CWD surveillance efforts

Chronic wasting disease has not yet been discovered in Montana’s wild populations of deer, elk and moose, but as the disease continues to expand to the north, south and east of the state, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Park officials believe it is only a matter of time before it is in Montana.

This fall, FWP is ramping up its CWD surveillance program again with financial help from the Mule Deer Foundation and The Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. FWP’s surveillance plan calls for rotating surveillance efforts amongst three priority areas of the state: south central, south east and north central/east. This year’s focus will be on the south-central priority area.

Surveillance efforts will primarily consist of collecting samples from hunter harvested deer at game check stations and cooperating meat processors and taxidermists.

Additionally, FWP is asking people who get salvage permits for roadkill deer in specific counties to voluntarily submit their heads for testing. Those counties are: Sheridan, Treasure, Daniels, Valley, Toole, Phillips, Liberty, Blaine, Hill, Custer, Rosebud, Musselshell, Golden Valley, Yellowstone, Carter, Sweet Grass, Park, Stillwater, Big Horn, Powder River, Carbon, Granite, and Roosevelt.

Landowners, hunters and the public are encouraged to report animals they see in the wild that appear sick to their nearest FWP personnel. Animals exhibiting clinical symptoms of CWD are often emaciated, drooling, disoriented with an abnormal gait, and have their head and ears hung low.

For questions about diseases in wildlife, please call the FWP Wildlife Health Lab at 406-994-6357.

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Wildfire-related closures are lifted

All of the wildfire-related area closures have been lifted across the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. These closures were associated with Alice Creek, Blacktail, Crucifixion Creek, Park Creek, Scalp, and Strawberry fires on the Lincoln, Rocky Mountain, and Belt Creek White Sulphur Springs Ranger Districts.

Although these areas are open to the public, people need to be alert and careful due to the numerous snags and hazard trees that are results from the wildfire activity. Trees and snags could be unstable and weak from the recent wildfires, especially in windy conditions. Other hazards could include loose debris such as rocks or logs, burned-out stump holes, mud flows in areas without vegetation, and several others. Visitors are asked to take extra precautions while entering and spending time in recently burned areas across the forest.

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Applications sought for Trapping Advisory Committee

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is seeking about 12 people to serve on a Trapping Advisory Committee to provide input on the agency’s trapping and furbearer management.

The committee will lend a citizen’s perspective to FWP in reviewing the science and management of trapping, predicting and anticipating public sentiment, and public communication efforts concerning trapping and furbearer management.

This advisory committee needs to be diverse and ideally will include people from across the state and contain a broad cross-section of views, experiences and interests, including wildlife, livestock, scientific, recreation, economic and local governments.

To apply to be on the Trapping Advisory Committee, follow this link, http://fwp.mt.gov/hunting/trapping/advisoryCommittee.html.

Application deadline is Oct. 20, and the FWP director will select panelists by Nov. 1. The first meeting will be Dec. 12-13 at FWP’s Helena Montana Wild. Subsequent meeting dates and places will be arranged at the close of each meeting, but meetings will be held in various cities across the state. Interested individuals should be willing to travel for up to five one- to two-day meetings in 2017-2018.

For more information contact John Vore at 444-3940.

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