Saturday, April 01, 2023

Region 1: Big game licenses on sale

Mineral Independent | March 8, 2023 12:00 AM

March 1 was a big day when it came to hunting and fishing in Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 1. The 2023 licenses went on sale and many permits for certain big game became available to submit for the lottery drawing later this summer.

Many find the rules and regulations confusing, and they can overwhelm many outdoors people who are usually over 50 years of age. FWP strongly encourages those who have questions or do not care to go online for research or purchases to stop at any FWP Licensing Agent, where you buy your fishing gear or hunting supplies, and visit with the people behind the counter. Or to drop by during business hours at the Region 1 Headquarters which is 490 North Meridian in Kalispell.

But March 1 was also the seasonal closing along a large portion of the north end of Flathead Lake. This is a 7-mile stretch that sits between Somers and Bigfork and closes to reduce human disturbances during the breeding, nesting and brood-rearing period for more than 200 bird species that use this area.

Shoreline and offshore habitats are critical for migrating birds to rest and nest and the north shore of Flathead Lake supports an abundant variety of birds year-round. This is especially during migration when tens of thousands of mixed waterfowl species rely on the area’s grassland, wetland, and shrubland habitats. The National Audubon Society has declared the north shore an Important Bird Area, which is the organization's official designation for places that provide essential habitat for bird populations.

Walking near birds or nesting areas or letting dogs run off leash can cause serious harm during this vulnerable time of year. These types of human activities upset breeding and non-breeding birds by breaking vital activities such as feeding and resting. Even a single disturbance can harm nests or lead birds to abandon active nests. It can also prevent them from establishing a nest altogether.

However, public access to the north shore beach remains open at Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ Somers Beach State Park and Osprey View property along Holt Drive near Bigfork. Access at both sites is restricted to state land and the section of beach that is also state land. Please remember that dogs must be kept on a leash at Somers Beach State Park and Osprey View. For more information on Somers Beach State Park, visit

From birds to bears, FWP is hosting a public meeting to discuss hound hunting black bears with interested members of the public. The meeting is scheduled for March 7, from 6-8 p.m. at the FWP office in Kalispell, 490 N. Meridian.

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