The Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission is seeking comment on a draft environmental assessment of a proposal to transplant bighorn sheep into three areas in southwestern Montana.
The areas assessed include the Bull Mountains north of Whitehall, Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park near Three Forks, and Doherty Mountain, just north of Lewis and Clark Caverns. The areas were selected, in part, because there would likely be interchange of bighorns among the three locations if sheep were to inhabit the area. Additionally, the areas were occupied by bighorns historically and the available habitat could support 200-300 sheep.
A public meeting to discuss the proposal is set for Dec. 7 at 7 p.m. at Whitehall High School, 1 Yellowstone Trail, in Whitehall.
One of the statewide objectives in FWP’s recently completed “Bighorn Sheep Conservation Strategy” is to establish five new populations over the course of the next 10 years. This proposal would help meet that objective and also help Montana’s struggling bighorn sheep population.
Final approval of the EA would be taken up by the FWP Commission in January. If approved, bighorns would be captured from existing Montana populations and moved to release sites as early as this winter. To adequately stock all three areas may take several years and would depend on availability of surplus sheep.
FWP will take public comment on the draft EA through 5 p.m., Dec. 16. Comments can be submitted in writing to Montana FWP, P.O. Box 998, Townsend, MT 59644; or by email to Tom Carlsen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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