Avoid conflicts with wildlife as WMAs open May 15
Most of Montana’s 76 Wildlife Management Areas open May 15, and with the long winter and heavy snowpack wildlife still have limited areas, in some places, left to forage.
People who are looking to get out to the WMAs this time of year should remember to keep vigilant to avoid conflicts with wildlife, particularly bears.
Bears, elk and shed-antler hunters will be sharing the same space once the WMAs open. Shed hunting on WMAs remains a popular activity.
Most animals see, hear and smell humans long before humans detect the presence of animals. Depending on the distance between the animals and humans, the animals decide whether to stay, defend themselves or flee.
- Inquire about recent bear activity in the area.
- Carry and know how to use bear pepper spray for emergencies.
- Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
- Travel in groups of three or more people whenever possible and plan to be out in the daylight hours.
- Stay on trails or rural roads.
- Watch for signs of bears such as bear scat, diggings, torn-up logs and turned over rocks, and partly consumed animal carcasses.
- Keep children close.
- Make your presence known by talking, singing, carrying a bell, or other means, especially when near streams or in thick forest where visibility is low. This can be the key to avoiding encounters. Most bears will avoid humans when they know humans are present.
- Use caution in areas like berry patches where bears occur.
- Don't approach a bear; respect their space and move off.
For more information about WMAs, visit fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/wma/.
Blackfoot-Clearwater WMA Opening Delayed Until June 1
The Blackfoot-Clearwater Wildlife Management Area (WMA) will open at noon on Friday, June 1 this year, instead of the regularly scheduled opening of May 15.
Persistent snow, a slow spring thaw and extremely wet roads have prompted the extended closure, as well as the need to allow habitat bordering the WMA to thaw and green up to receive migratory wildlife that wintered on the WMA.
The extended closure to all public entry pertains to that portion of the WMA bounded by Clearwater Junction on its southwest corner, generally lying north of Highway 200, east of Highway 83, and south and west of Woodworth Road. The portion of the WMA within these bounds will be closed to all public entry, whether by foot or other means, until noon on June 1.
Also included in the extended closure is that portion of the WMA lying west of Highway 83 along the west shore of the Clearwater River. That portion of the WMA will be closed to vehicles until noon on June 1, due to wet roads, but is open for the public to travel on foot without the use of bikes or other vehicles.