Posted: Jun 6, 2013 8:11 PM by Jamie Leary - MTN News
Updated: Jun 7, 2013 9:08 AM
The new director of Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks says he wants to change the way the state deals with predatory animals and the state's budget.
Jeff Hagener, director of Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks, met with Southwest Montana residents and got an earful about from everything from bison to budgets. He addressed those who turned out for a citizens' advisory committee meeting in Bozeman.
Hagener gave opening remarks at the meeting before opening it up for a question and answer session.
Hagener talked about the past legislative session and changes to FWP budget, habitat conservation, access to private land access and relationship with land owners and bills and proposals on bison and wolves.
After a busy legislative session, Hagener says he is working on more outreach on important issues. He said his top priorities include transparency in the budget , land conservation and relationships with land owners and management of carnivorous animals such as wolves.
"There were about 150 bills that had some relationship or some impact on fish wildlife and parks," Hagener said. " So for four months we were very busy"
During a question and answer session, the issue of wolf management came up more than once.
"This is a little bit more of a microcosm of the area because of Yellowstone park," said Hagener. "They're very attractive for people to come view but on the bigger standpoint, we're looking at the number of wolves we have are probably a little bit more than we would like to sustain on a total statewide basis."
The FWP says they are still dealing with a learning curve with wolves but recently, they have suggested some changes.
"So we are proposing with some of the things that came through the legislature to actually liberalize our season a little bit more," Hagener stated.
The changes would extend the hunting season to 6 months and changing the quota from 3 wolves to 5.
This won't be the first time the new director will face vocal audiences.
"I think it's easier to resolve issues face to face and sit down with people," said Hagener. "I think it's extremely important so I've made it very much a priority of mine. We need to get out in the field, we need to meet with our constituencies"
FWP Officials are also working on a proposal that would require traps intended for small animals to be placed 300 feet off trails as opposed to the current 60 feet.
This has been a major concern for many pet owners.