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Fish and wildlife council proposes changes to hunting and fishing regulations

POLSON – Minor changes in hunting and fishing licenses were approved to be sent to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal council after the Flathead Reservation Fish and Wildlife council approved the changes at their meeting on Wednesday, July 20.

Of the minor changes, the council first discussed a commercial bait harvest permit, in regard to people catching fish and making cut bait out of pikeminnow, peamouth and sucker fish.

According to FWRC Division Manager Tom McDonald, the introduction of Mack Days has created a large market for cut bait. He noted that people have been catching fish for bait for years already. The commercial bait harvest permit is $10 and anglers must catch fish by hook and line only.

The proposal also calls for no live fish or live crayfish, frogs, toads, or salamanders to be used as bait for fishing. The proposal prohibits use of salmonids (trout, salmon, and whitefish) except eggs may be used as bait. They also encouraged the limit of Northern Pike to mirror the state limit of 15, rather than the current limit of 5.

McDonald then handed out a summary of reservation licensing figures from the previous year. He proposed raising all conservation licenses by $1 to generate an extra $12,476 based on how many permits were sold in 2010. All recommendations were approved by the council, who will forward the information to CSKT tribal council for approval.

In other business, Wildlife Manager Dale Becker presented a draft of the 2011 hunting seasons, shooting hours and limits for pheasant and gray partridge for the Flathead Indian Reservation.

The hunting season for gray partridge will be Sept. 1 - January, 1 2012. Shooting hours will be sunrise through sunset of each day within the listed hunting season. A limit of 8 partridge daily and 32 partridge in possession after the fourth day of the hunting season are allowed.

Pheasant hunting will be allowed from Oct. 8 - January 1, 2012. Shooting hours will be sunrise through sunset of each day within the hunting season. A limit of three cock pheasants daily and nine cock pheasants in possession after the third day of hunting season will be enforced.

Youth pheasant hunting days are tentatively scheduled for Sept. 24 and 25 to encourage youth participation and interest in pheasant hunting and conservation. Hunters between the ages of 12-15 who are legally licensed may hunt pheasants during these days, but must be accompanied in the field by a non-hunting adult who is at least 18 years old. All regular hunting season regulations such as bag limits, possession limits, shooting hours, and hunter education will apply during the youth hunting days.

All recommended changes to the upcoming hunting season were approved by the Flathead Reservation Fish and Wildlife council and will be sent to CSKT tribal council for further review and approval.

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