Free landowner elk permit process OK'd, deadline to apply moved back to June 1

Brett French

Citing a short timeline for notifying participants, the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission on Tuesday approved a deadline change and a new process for landowners to apply for free either-sex elk tags in return for providing public hunting access.

The rule change to a June 1 deadline only applies to this year, the commission decided at its monthly meeting in Helena. Next year April 15 to May 15 would be the application period. Before the third year, FWP is hoping to have a new proposal to the Legislature for more permanent guidelines.

Commissioner K.C. Walsh said he talked to the manager of a large ranch who knew nothing about changes to the Contractual Elk Public Access Agreements, also known as 454s after the House bill that created the rules. The tags are only good on the landowner’s property.

“He was completely unaware of this program,” Walsh said.

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He is concerned the Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks’ proposal to set a May 15 deadline for landowners to apply was too soon after the Tuesday approval of the new process.

Quentin Kujala, FWP’s chief of staff, said

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