FWP advisory council spars over free landowner elk tags

BRETT FRENCH

To reduce elk populations on private lands in Montana, landowners need to be given incentives to allow public hunters onto their property, Eric Albus said last week.

“I want to see elk killed to get these numbers under control,” said the Hinsdale resident and member of the Private Land/Public Wildlife Council. He’s also the owner of Milk River Outfitters. “If we’ve got to give these landowners X number of permits to get Y number of cows killed in these grossly over-objective units, that’s what needs to be done.”

The PLPW met in Billings for two days. One item on the agenda was FWP’s 454 program, named after the legislation it was attached to when created. The agency refers to it as the Elk Hunting Access agreement program. It’s also been derisively nicknamed “bulls for billionaires.”

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Since the program was revised in last year’s Legislature – without public input – many hunters have raised concerns. A landowner, whether resident or nonresident, may now be given a free either-sex elk permit or license by FWP. In return, the landowner picks one other hunter to give access to, and

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