FWP: Bear ID courses a must for first-time hunters

First-time spring black bear hunters in Montana must complete a bear identification course before they can purchase a black bear hunting license.

In a news release, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is reminding all black bear hunters of their responsibility to avoid mistakenly shooting a grizzly bear during the spring black bear hunt, which begins April 15.

To help assure that it doesn’t happen, first-time bear hunters must be certified by successfully completing FWP’s bear identification training course offered under the “Education” tab at fwp.mt.gov. Bear identification tests can also be obtained at any FWP office or by writing to FWP Bear Test, PO Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620-0701.

Hunters may purchase black bear hunting licenses online at fwp.mt.gov, at FWP license providers, or by downloading and printing a paper license application and mail it to FWP. Licenses issued through the mail may take two weeks to process.


Public Input Sought

FWP is seeking public comment on new regulations to contain, detect and prevent the risk of spreading invasive mussels and other aquatic invasive species in the state, according to a news release.

Invasive mussel larvae were detected for the first time in Montana in October in Tiber Reservoir. “Suspect” detections occurred in Canyon Ferry Reservoir, the Milk River, and the Missouri River below Toston Dam, the news release noted.

The discovery triggered a natural resource emergency in Montana and led to several recommended strategies to keep the mussels from spreading to other areas.

The proposed rule amendments outline several new regulations. Learn more at musselresponse.mt.gov.


Paddlefish Lottery Nears

Paddlefish anglers planning to fish in the Upper Missouri River (From Fort Peck Dam to Fort Benton) must apply for an Upper Missouri River Paddlefish Tag.

Applications are available by mail at fwp.mt.gov, or at regional and area FWP offices. Applications must be received no later than Thursday, March 30.

According to an FWP news release, 1,000 tags will be distributed via lottery this year. Each tag holder may harvest one fish from May 1 through June 15. 

Anglers not successful in drawing a harvest tag will be issued a snag-and-release-only license. Anglers, both resident and nonresident, are required to purchase a season fishing and conservation license prior to submitting their applications. Party applications for up to five anglers are available.

Anglers that don’t participate in the tag drawing can purchase a snag-and-release  license at any FWP office or online beginning Monday, April 10.            

Anglers may select one of the three following areas to fish for paddlefish in Montana: Upper Missouri River (White Tag), Yellowstone River and Missouri River downstream of Fort Peck Dam (Yellow Tag), and the Fort Peck Dredge Cut (archery only — Blue Tag). 

Any paddlefish harvest must be reported to FWP within 48 hours at 1-844-668-5932.