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Proposed dog-training rule nixed

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POLSON – A proposed rule that would have limited the number of dogs one could train at one time has been put on hold. 

In March, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks proposed a rule that would allow only four dogs to train on wild birds at any one time. The rule would have required dog trainers to get a permit. 

However, the state agency recently decided to put the proposal on hold after the Environmental Quality Council objected. The EQC is an interim committee charged with oversight of FWP’s rulemaking, said Aimee Hawkaluk, an attorney with FWP. 

The rule was proposed in regard to a 1982 state law that contained vague language, she said. That law requires one who trains dogs within a mile of a bird’s nest to get a permit. 

She said the law’s wording is “too broad,” adding that it would be difficult for the public to understand or comply with it. 

“We’re not able through rulemaking to address the issue in a clear way,” she said. 

She hopes the state Legislature will make the language clearer when it meets in 2019. 

Mike Lee, commercial permitting program manager with FWP, said the agency received two written complaints earlier this year about large numbers of dogs training on wild birds in northeast Montana. 

These groups of “pointer dogs” were between 50 and 70 in number, he said. Hawkaluk said they were training on public land. 

“Our goal is to make sure wild birds aren’t displaced,” Lee said. 

Lake County Commissioner Dave Stipe said local dog trainers typically use retrievers, train on private land and are not a danger to wild nesting birds. 

He said FWP held public meetings about the proposal on Oct. 10 in Kalispell, Missoula and Helena. 

The comments he heard in Missoula “were not positive,” he said. 

One can still make comments on the issue by emailing jkolman@mt.gov. 

The EQC next meets in Helena Jan. 17-18. 

 

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