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This Week in Fish and Wildlife: Respecting Montana's wildlife management areas

Posted at 3:11 PM, Feb 28, 2024

Montana is rich in access to public land. However, some of that land has special rules that control when we can use them. MTN's Chet Layman recently talked with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks about the importance of these lands and our responsibility to care for them.

BOZEMAN — The Porcupine Unit of the Gallatin Wildlife Management Area—almost 1,600 acres of Montana land—is special. RIght now, it belongs to Montana's wildlife and will until the middle of May, allowing critical space for some of the Treasure State’s animals.

“It provides winter habitat, winter security for wildlife to help get them through the most difficult time of the year,” said Montana FWP’s Morgan Jacobsen. “For that reason, this wildlife management area along with many others around the state are closed this time of year to all public access.”

The bulk of Montana’s WMA's will open on May 15. Jacobsen notes the importance of the closure time and why everyone needs to follow those rules. Montana is rich in wildlife because of rich habitat like these wildlife management areas. It’s a few months out of the year—crucial months for wildlife and for some, truly a matter of life or death.

“One of the reasons why we have such extraordinary wildlife resources in Montana is because we have amazing habitat like this and that's why places like the Porcupine Unit here of the Gallatin wildlife management area, that's why habitat is the primary purpose and priority of this area, is to be able to protect wildlife and give them what they need to survive,” Jacobsen said.

Jacobsen's message is simple: follow the rules, wherever you recreate; stay off private land without permission; pick up your trash; use public areas as intended; leave no trace; and, in the case of WMA's, stay out until mid-May.

“You know, the bottom line is that places like this that have wildlife places where we like to go out and recreate, they belong to the people of Montana,” Jacobsen said, “and we want to take care of them, we want to make sure they're usable and enjoyable and in good shape for generations to come.”

For more information on Montana’s wildlife management areas, head over to the FWP website.