DIVIDE - Game wardens are ramping up enforcement of trespassing violations in wildlife management areas, like Fleecer Mountain south of Butte.
It’s not about harassing people who enjoy the outdoors, it’s about protecting wildlife during a time when they’re most vulnerable.
“For wildlife right now is a very stressful time, because, you know, there’s limited forage available, they’ve been living off reserves all winter and so they’re kind of in starvation mode if you will,” said FWP spokesperson Morgan Jacobsen.
Fish, Wildlife and Parks manage wildlife management areas, which provide a safe habitat for deer, elk, pronghorn and other big game animals. Most WMAs in the state are closed to people between Dec. 2 and May 15.
This year, game wardens have issued three trespassing citations at Fleecer Mountain and one in the Wall Creek area.
“People violate those closures and are caught trespassing often times are, you know, trying to go in there and pick up antler sheds early before WMAs open up,” said Jacobsen.
If you happen to be out hiking this time of year, wildlife officials say stay on the designated trails, and don’t wander into the woods.
And if you happen to encounter game animals, keep your distance, don’t harass them, which could force them to run and burn precious energy.
“If they’re having to move in response to your presence or if a dog is chasing them and they’re having to run away, that’s precious energy they’re having to spend and so anything you can do to reduce stress and stressful encounters with wildlife is good,” said Jacobsen.
Information on closures and restrictions at WMAs can be found on the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov.