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Outdoor recreation regulation could change

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MOIESE – A concern about shotgun pellets flying past homes during hunting season has prompted a proposed change in the bird hunting regulations developed through a cooperative agreement between the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The proposed change could go into effect on March 1, 2016, along with recreation and fishing changes for non-tribal members.

Tom McDonald, manager of the CSKT Division of Fish, Wildlife, Recreation and Conservation, took the proposed changes to the Flathead Reservation Fish and Wildlife Board during their last meeting at the National Bison Range to see what they thought. 

The cooperative management board consists of both tribal and state representatives tasked with providing recommendations to both agencies. At the meeting, they voted to approve the changes. Now, the proposed changes need to go to the tribe and the state for approval.

“I’ve requested council time to bring this back to the council, and the FWP will get it on the docket in Helena,” McDonald said, explaining that votes by both governments need to be made before the regulation booklets are printed around the end of this year. 

McDonald said concern about hunters firing shots too close to homes caused discussion at the tribal council and the development of the proposed regulation change. The regulation would make it unlawful to discharge a firearm while hunting within 150 yards of a residence unless the hunter has the approval of the property owner.

Fishing regulations could also change. The amount of yellow perch an angler can catch could be limited to ten fish each over ten inches, but there is no proposed limit on smaller perch. McDonald later explained that anglers requested the change. 

“There has never been a limit on perch on the reservation,” he said. “This new proposal is to protect bigger perch for more anglers. There haven’t been enough big fish left for everyone.”

Recreation licensing that mostly affects out of state folks may increase by $3. 

The areas affected include the yearly conservation license for out of state residents, the three-day use permit for out of state residents and the camping stamp for Montana residents and out of state residents.

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