EKALAKA — September first marked the opening of Montana’s Upland Game Bird hunting season.
State wildlife officials are working to provide more opportunity for landowners, hunters and wildlife.
In the 15 years that Doug Bonsell has worked with Fish, Wildlife and Parks Upland Game Bird program he has seen his land change for the better.
"Absolutely, where we have planted the habitats and cover crops, I’ve seen the soil get softer, there’s more bugs, there’s more wildlife," Bonsell said.
He's been able to increase his cattle production along with providing more habitat for game birds.
"I don’t believe it's just birds that you’re helping when you plant that habitat. You’re helping the bugs, which attracts everything up the food chain," Bonsell said. "It's just part of the ecosystem that you are adding too.
Improving the ecosystem is a main reason FWP is looking to work with other interested landowners to conserve habitat.
"These conservation practices, through the Upland Game Bird program, are not only good for wildlife -- which is what we want -- but also good for their operations," FWP's Justin Hughes explained. "It can help their bottom line in the end."
FWP has the flexibility to work with landowners to meet their conservation goals.
"If a landowner has an objective in mind for habitat on their place -- with the suite of things we have to offer -- we can find something to fit their needs and fit into their operation to achieve those habitat goals," Hughes said.
And in the end, hunters will benefit this Fall.
"The best salesman I have is people that have come and hunted here and talked about what successful hunts they’ve had, because of the habitat we’ve built," Bonsell concluded.
FWP offers an Upland Game Bird access guide showing all the properties one can hunt across the state.