Anglers encouraged to practice safety for ice fishing season
With ice fishing season now upon us, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks would like to remind anglers of various safety tips when out on the ice.
It should be noted that anglers need to be familiar with the body of water that they plan to fish at, or they need to go with someone who knows the water and how ice forms and changes there. Anglers should also be careful venturing onto any ice where there are windmills operating as the action of the aerators can weaken or thin the ice.
The following are other safety tips for dealing with the ice:
- If you have any doubts about the ice safety, do not go on it.
- Blue ice is usually hard. Watch out for opaque, gray, dark or porous spots in the ice that can indicate soft, weaker areas. Ice also tends to thin more quickly at shorelines.
- The minimum for ice thickness are as follows: 4 inches, one person with gear; 5 inches, small group spread out; 6 inches, snowmobile or ATV; 9 inches, small automobile (not recommended, but proceed with caution if needed); and 12 inches, pickup truck or SUV.
- Watch for pressure ridges, area of open water or thin ice where the ice has cracked and heaved.
- Don’t leave children unsupervised,
- Test ice ahead of you with an ice spud bar.
- Lakes and ponds do not freeze at the same thickness all over.
- Moving water weakens ice. Avoid ice on rivers and streams, or where a river or stream enters a lake, pond or reservoir.
- The least safe ice usually occurs early and late in the season, when the weather is warmer.
Also, make sure you are well-supplied and well-equipped with gear. Always dress warm, bring life jackets and carry a pair of long spikes on a string. Also, check in with your local sport shops and weather online or on the news to see what the conditions will be for a given day. You can also ask other anglers or local sources.
Meetings on CWD set for Chester, Havre
FWP will be holding a pair of meetings in Chester and Havre to explain the presence of chronic wasting disease recently discovered north of Chester, near the Canadian border.
The meetings are scheduled for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 21 in both Chester and Havre. The meeting in Chester will be held in the town’s high school auditorium at 511 Main Street. The meeting in Havre will be held at the Hill County electric Co-Op at 2121 U.S. Highway 2 N.W.
At both meetings, FWP officials will present a background on the disease, what is known about it along the state’s northern border and what the department’s CWD draft management plan identifies for actions and management in the future.
For more information on CWD and FWP’s response, you can go to fwp.mt.gov/CWD or email CWDresponse@mt.gov.
Over 100 deer harvested in CWD hunt
Hunters harvested at least 107 deer in Carbon County over the weekend for a special hunt conducted to gather data on chronic wasting disease, or CWD.
Deer brought to FWP’s Joliet check station included 73 mule deer and 34 white-tailed deer. The season opened last Friday, Dec. 15. The season will continue to run until Feb. 15 unless hunters fill the quota of 200 deer of each species.
The hunt is designed to gather information about the distribution and prevalence of CWD in deer in an area of Carbon County where six deer harvested during the general big game season tested positive for the disease.
Hunters are required to submit their harvested deer to FWP within three days either to the Joliet check station or at FWP’s Region 5 headquarters in Billings Heights.
More information about CWD and the special hunt is available at fwp.mt.gov/cwd.
Hunting season proposals to be discussed for Region 6
FWP will be holding four public meetings in northeast Montana next month to gather comments on proposed hunting seasons and rules for the next two years. Additionally, updated information on Chronic Wasting Disease will be presented.
The tentative rules and regulations, which are currently available online for review and comments at fwp.mt.gov, were approved by the Fish and Wildlife Commission during their December meeting.
Some of the changes, relevant to Region 6, include lengthening elk shoulder seasons in the Missouri River Breaks and Bears Paw Mountains; additional mule and white-tailed deer anterless B licenses; expansion of the youth deer season; and changes to archery antelope license drawing processes.
All the meetings are scheduled for 6:30-8:30 p.m. on their respective dates. The dates and locations are:
- Glasgow: Monday, Jan. 8, Cottonwood Inn, 54250 US-2.
- Malta: Thursday, Jan. 11, Malta High School, 1 High School Lane (cafeteria).
- Havre: Tuesday, Jan. 16, Hill County Electric, 2121 US-2 (hospitality room).
- Plentywood: Wednesday, Jan. 17, Sheridan County Courthouse, 100 W Laurel Avenue (Jubilee Room).
Comments can be made at any of these meetings. You can also submit comments online at fwp.mt.gov or by mail to: FWP Wildlife Division, “Attn: Hunting Season Proposals,” PO Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620. Comments are due by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2018.
For further information, call 406-228-3700.
10 meetings scheduled on wildlife tentatives
FWP has set up 10 meetings in January to discuss tentative hunting regulations for the next two years.
These rules and regulations were approved by the Fish and Wildlife Commission this month, and include statewide and regional regulations for antelope, black bear, bighorn sheep, bison, deer, elk, moose, mountain goat, mountain lion and upland game birds. Recommendations for the 2018 and 2019 hunting seasons include a regional white-tailed deer B license, increasing mule deer B licenses in several hunting districts and making the dates and licenses of the Region 4 elk shoulder seasons more uniform.
Public comments will be considered at these meetings before final decisions are made at the February meeting in Helena.
The meeting dates and locations are listed below. All start at 7 p.m.
- Chester: Wednesday, Jan. 3, Chester High School Auditorium, 511 Main Street.
- Shelby: Thursday, Jan. 4, Marias River electric Cooperative, 910 Roosevelt Highway.
- Stanford: Tuesday, Jan. 9, Judith Basin County Courthouse meeting room, 91 3rd Street North.
- Conrad: Tuesday, Jan. 9, Pondera Community Center, 311 South Virginia
- Wolf Creek: Thursday, Jan. 11, Wolf Creek School, 150 Walsh Street.
- White Sulphur Springs: Thursday, Jan. 11, WSS Training Center, 104 W. Crawford.
- Choteau: Monday, Jan. 15, Choteau Public Library, 17 Main Avenue North.
- Fort Benton: Tuesday, Jan. 16, Ambulance Barn, 810 15th Street.
- Lewistown: Wednesday, Jan. 17, Lewistown Sheriff’s Complex, 121 8th Avenue South.
- Great Falls: Thursday, Jan. 18, Paris Gibson Education Center, 2400 Central Avenue.
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