by Alison Noon, Associated Press
HELENA, Mont. (AP) – State wildlife officials gave initial approval Thursday to a plan expanding the ability of landowners to obtain elk-kill permits to reduce the spread of disease to cattle.
Montana Fish and Wildlife commissioners voted unanimously to allow additional hunters in southern Montana to kill up to 250 elk that move near livestock herds from January to April of 2016.
The updated plan would let livestock producers choose people to participate in state-approved dispersal hunts outside Montana’s regular five-week elk season.
Wildlife Bureau Coordinator Quentin Kujala said the state would designate hunters from a roster of licensed volunteers to join the hand-picked ones. But the additional people would only be called to action if more people are needed to scare away or shoot elk.
Kujala said the change will allow ranchers and their neighbors to respond faster to prevent possible transmissions of brucellosis, a disease that can cause animals to prematurely abort. It is believed to be transferred when cattle come in contact with birthing material from an infected elk.
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Source: Associated Press