Tribe closes hunting for cow, calf moose

by Scott Shindledecker
Daily Inter Lake | May 22, 2020 8:27 AM

Declining moose populations in Western Montana have led the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribe to close hunting of antlerless animals on the Flathead Indian Reservation.

According to information from the Tribe, the closure begins May 30, 2020. In addition to the Reservation, the harvest of cow and calf moose will also not be allowed on off-reservation aboriginal territory within western Montana.

Over the past 10 years, permits issued to CSKT Tribal member hunters has declined substantially, and hunter success has declined steadily from 23% in 1986 to only 2% in 2019.

At the same time, female and calf moose harvest has also decreased, but female and calf moose continued to be harvested. In a limited population, removal of reproductive females, as well as immature females can have long-term adverse impacts upon populations, both now and in the future.

Moose harvest trends over the past 30 years, both within the exterior boundaries of the Flathead Indian Reservation and elsewhere in western Montana, indicate an overall declining moose population in western Montana.

Factors include mortalities due to hunter harvest, declining suitable habitat, parasites and disease, predation, and changes in climate.

For these reasons, the Tribal Wildlife Management Program recommended an emergency closure of harvest of antlerless moose (cow and calf moose), both within the Flathead Indian Reservation and off-reservation aboriginal territory within western Montana.

This action was supported and approved by Tribal Council.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks have also closed taking of antlerless moose throughout most western Montana due to the same concerns, with a few exceptions in southwestern Montana.

As of 2012, all hunting permits in Region 1 (northwest Montana) were changed to antlered-bull only, according to Information and Eduction Specialist Dillon Tabish.

For additional information on the emergency closure of antlerless (cow/calf) moose for CSKT Tribal member moose hunters both within the Flathead Indian Reservation and aboriginal territory in western Montana, contact Dale Becker at the Tribal Wildlife Management Program at 406-883-2888, ext. 7278 or dale.becker@cskt.org .