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1945-1946



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.S. UOiUMENTS COLLECIION 930 e'^'i^il T"^'

H0NT41N A STATE LIBRARS of Montana Hateo^'ia: s^



BIENNIAL REPORT

OF THE

FISH AND GAME
COMMISSION

FOR

May 1, 1944 — April 30, 1945
May 1, 1945 — April 30, 1946




PUBLISHED BY THE

MONTANA FISH AND GAME DEPARTMENT
Helena, Montana



MSI MziSZ



MONTANA STATE LIBRARY



3 0864 0016 1653 4



STATE OF MONTANA

BIENNIAL REPORT

OF THE

FISH AND GAME
COMMISSION

FOR



May I, 1944 — April 30, 1945
May 1, 1945 — April 30, 1946




PUBLISHED BY THE

MONTANA FISH AND GAME DEPARTMENT
Helena, Montana



NAEGELE PRINTING CO., HELENA, MONT.



/



To His Excellency

Sam C. Ford

Governor, State of Montana

Helena, Montana

Dear Governor Ford:

Transmitted herewith is the Montana Fish and Game Com-
mission's Biennial Report for the period from May 1, 1944 to April
30, 1946.

The statistics compiled at the close of this biennium reveals
that the Fish and Game Department has sold, during this period,
its greatest number of hunting and fishing licenses in the history of
the department.

The following report is intended to give a brief picture of
present wildlife conditions, activities of the department, and
recammendations for improving administration of our wildlife re-
sources.

Respectfully submitted,

MONTANA STATE FISH AND GAME COMMISSION

ELMER lOHNSON,

Chairman.

A. A. O'CLAIRE,

Secretary



State of Montana

FISH AND GAME COMMISSION

Helena, Montana



MEMBERS

ELMER JOHNSON, Chairman, Glasgow

WM. CARPENTER, Butte

J. W. SEVERY, Missoula

A. C. GRANDE, Lennep

E. G. VEDOVA, Roundup



A. A. O'CLAIRE
State Fish and Game Warden, Helena

A. G. STUBBLEFIELD
Supt. State Fisheries, Helena

ROBERT F. COONEY
Director of Wildlife Restoration

W. J. EVERIN
Chief Deputy



FISH AND GAME PERSONNEL

Office Staff

Helen Redpath Chief Clerk

Eleanor Thode Secretary

Ann Crimmins Claims Clerk

Margaret Jennings Cashier

Virginia Buckland : Assistant Cashier

Alice Davis Stenographer

Deputy Game Wardens

John F. Burke Livingston

Keith Burke Red Lodge

L. C. Clark Bozeman

John R. Cook Glendive

W. J. Dorrington Conrad

Truce Emett Great Falls

K. O. Fallang .....White Sulphur Springs

H. C. Friede . Malta

W. A. Hill Great Falls

George HoUibaugh Lewistown

Allen T. Holmes .♦. Billings

Clyde Howard Missiula

G. O. Johnson Harlowton

Wm. R. Kohls Ennis

E. M. Krost ..-. Sidney

R. H. Lambeth Poison

Frank Marshall West Yellowstone

Harry N. Morgan Ovando

Bruce Neal ...Augusta

John Nicolay Miles City

O. J. Nollar. Libby

Charles R. Price Dillon

Asa Rogers Havre

H. C. Sailor Absarokee

Wm. Schultz Butte

Gene Sherman Thompson Falls

Raleigh Shields Roundup

Frank Starina - Hardin

Jack Thompson Leave of Absence

E. W. Tierney Helena

Waldo Vangsness.. U. S. Army

M. J. Watt Hamilton

Ross Wilson Kalispell

Don Wright -. Browning



Game Farms

V. W. Bailey, Foreman Fort Peck

Lester Barton, Foreman Warm Springs

J. R. Wells, Foreman Billings

Hatcheries

Foremen:

Fred Beal .- Anaconda

Clarence Ripley Arlee

Forest Keller Big Timber

George Miller . Emigrant

Iver Hoglund Great Falls

Eli Melton Hamilton

Leo Gilroy Lewistown

George Ripley Libby

Virgil Harper :::... Ovando

A. E. Tangen : Poison

John Sheehan -. .-... Somers

S. S. Drew^ — (Spawn Station) West Yellowstone



Wildlife Restoration Division



Hector LaCasse
Dorothy Nopper
Katherine Brewer



. Draftsman

Secretary

Stenographer



Fieldmen:

William Bergeson
Faye Couey
Lloyd McDowell

Ken Thompson

Don Brown
Ray Campbell
Frank Lancaster
Jack Owens
Merle Rognrud
Rex Smart
Joe Gaab
William Koch



Senior Fieldman

... Senior Fieldman

Senior Fieldman

Senior Fieldman

Fieldman

Fieldman

Fieldman

Fieldman

Fieldman

Fieldman

Assistant Fieldman

Assistant Fieldman



FOREWORD

The importance of our wildlife resources to the residents of Montana
is demonstrated by the number of citizens who purchase hunting and
fishing licenses. Approximately one person out of each five citizens
purchases a resident game bird and fishing license.

Demands of the resident sportsman and non-resident sportsman
for more fish and game is ever on the increase. Methods of transporta-
tion to and from hunting and fishing grounds, as well as the methods of
taking fish and game, are becoming more and more efficient.

The problem that confronts Montana sportsmen and the Fish and
Game Commission is to conserve our present supply of wildlife and to
provide means of increasing our game fish populations and certain
species of game animals and game birds in habitats which have the
carrying capacity and room for an increase without upsetting existing
stable economic land use programs.

To meet this problem the Commission necessarily must expand its
program to propagate, administer- and conserve wildlife in proportion to
the demand. There is, therefore, a need to provide an increase in
revenue to finance such a program and to compensate for the decline
in the purchasing power of the dollar.

This report of the Fish and Game Commission for the biennium
presents some of the accomplishments of our game management pro-
gram, and calls attention to some of the needs and recommendations
to further the program.

GENERAL WILDLIFE PICTURE

Montana has a great variety of wildlife habitat due to its topo-
graphy, which supports many of the important species of North Ameri-
can wildlife in considerable numbers.

Big Game. Through sound conservation measures and game man-
agement practices, huntable populations on big game animals have been
maintained and open seasons have been provided on elk, deer, mountain
goats and bear, and limited seasons on moose and antelope.

With the present total population of elk in the State estimated at
not over 30,000 and with present hunting pressures almost developed to
the point where the annual kill of elk is equal or possibly greater in
some instances than the annual increment from its breeding stock,
serious thought should be given to the inevitable adoption of the limited
license for taking the desired number of animals. Present methods to
close big game seasons when a desired kill has been reached has proved
unsuccessful in limiting the kill to the desired number.

Present estimates of our big game populations are as follows:

Elk 29,779

Mule Deer 87,530

White Tailed Deer 29,173

Moose 3,610

Antelope 22,105



Grand Total



Mountain Sheep


1,284


Mountain Goats


5,182


Black Bear


7,000


Carimou


15


Grizzly Bear


550




197.078



— 7—



/



While the total population of big game animals is not impressive
considering the area of the state, it should be borne in mind that the
controlling factor is availability of suitable habitat. It is doubtful if
the elk population can be greatly increased except in a few areas vi'ith-
out conflicting with existing land uses. There perhaps is room for a
large increase in many areas for deer, antelope, mountain sheep, moun-
tain goats and grizzly bear. The antelope offers a promising future
for Montana sportsmen and has responded well to management.

Game Birds. Native upland game bird populations fluctuate in cycles
from causes of which at present we know little. The seasons and bag
limits have been regulated according to the period within these cycles.
Open seasons were provided during the past biennium on Blue Grouse,
Ruffed Grouse, Franklin Grouse and Sharptailed Grouse. Due to a low
in the Sage Hen cycle, no open season was provided during the 1945
season. Continued protection may help increase the Sage Hen popula-
tion to huntable proportions within a reasonable time.

The Ring-neck Pheasant and Hungarian Partridge population has
been on the wane during the last few years. This decline became so
evident that the Fish and Game Commission reduced the length of the
season and bag limit in some areas in the state during the 1945 season.
Factors which have contributed to this decline in population are: un-
favorable weather during the rearing season, illegal kill of hens, re-
duced cover and an increase in predators during the corresponding
period. Limited open seasons and a reduction in the bag limit, together
with an expanded planting program from our game farms and a con-
certed effort to eradicate predatory birds and animals, will help bring
back the pheasant population so that an open season can be provided
each year in the future.

Migratory bird regulations of the Federal Government are adopted
each year by the Commission. Montana was placed in the northern zone
during the 1944 and 1945 seasons. Local duck populations have re-
mained fairly constant; however, the northern flights upon which many
localities depend for duck shooting has been noticeably smaller during
the past two years.

Game Fish. Because of favorable natural spawning conditions in
many waters and supplemental planting from the hatcheries, the greater
portion of our lakes and streams have been kept fairly productive of
game fish. However, the inci'eased fishing pressure on the most ac-
cessible lakes and streams has resulted in an overall reduction in game
fish populations.

The lack of fishing pressure in most streams, lakes and reservoirs
supporting warm-water species is one problem in the management of
such waters, because of the tendency of warm-water species to over
populate and subsequently dwarf due to competition for available food.
The opposite is true of trout streams and lakes. Increased fishing
pressure has created a problem to keep the most accessible waters pro-
ductive of game fish.

Thus it is evident that separate management practices are necessary
to keep waters productive according to the species of fish a par-

—8—



ticular drainage or body of water is capable of producing. During the
past biennium the Commission provided open seasons and bag limits
accordingly.

GAME DIVISION

Game Farms. During the biennium covered by this report, only the
Fort Peck Game Farm vv^as in production. The Warm, Springs Game
Farm and the Billings Game Farm, which suspended operations in the
fall of 1942 for the duration of the war, were not in production . How-
ever, during the fall of 1945 preparations were being made to put both
of these farms back into full production for the 1946 season. In Decem-
ber, 1945, contracts were let for the construction of four brooder
houses at the Warm Springs Game Farm and four brooder houses at
the Billings Game Farm. The four houses were completed at the
Warm Springs Farm for use during the 1946 season, but due to shortage
of building materials, the buildings at the Billings Farm were not com-
pleted. Construction of additional brooder houses is planned at both
farms so that incubators, hatchers and hovers can be used to raise
pheasants without depending upon the use of domestic setting hens.

In February, 1946, the Commission purchased eighty acres of land
in the Moiese Valley in Lake County for the purpose of establishing a
fourth game farm in Montana. This site was picked due to its favor-
able climatic condition, soil, exposure, and its acreage under irrigation.
The Commission has been unable to do anything toward the construction
of buildings and runways to date due to the scarcity of the materials
needed.

Predatory Bird and Animal Control. Since the fall of 1942, the cur-
tailed amounts of ammunition available to sportsmen has resulted in
fewer sportsmen in the field which heretofor had killed a great many
predatory birds and animals. Immediately thereafter a large increase
in predators was apparent. Many sportsmen's organizations have con-
tinued to inaugurate predatory animal and bird campaigns. During the
past two years limited magpie and crow poisoning campaigns were car-
ried out by the Department as well as the operation of magpie traps.

The Department has continued to pay a $2.00 bounty on Lynx Cats
and a $25.00 bounty on Mountain Lions, in addition to paying one-half
the bounty list of the State Livestock Commission on coyotes.

The Fish and Game Commission also paid the salaries and expenses
of four Government predatory animal trappers for four months during
the winter months of 1946 and for two months during the winter of 1945.

Law Enforcement. During the past biennium the return of six
wardens from the armed forces, in addition to those previously returned,
bolstered the law enforcement division. Also during this time, three
regular district vacancies were filled by new personnel who are also
veterans of World War II.

There were 640 arrests made for violations of the Fish and Game
Laws and Regulations of the Commission during the period covered by
this report. In addition to the actual numbers of arrests, a great many
infractions of the Game Laws were investigated for which no arrests

—9—



were made. Violators paid fines totaling $16,358.11 which has been
deposited to the credit of the Fish and Game Fund.

During this same period, an unprecedented total of 2,845 applications
for Permits to Destroy Beaver were investigated and 29,374 beaver pelts
were tagged by Deputy Game Wardens, in addition to the regular patrol
work and other activities carried on in their respective districts.

Due to the increase in all activities in each warden's district, such
as hunting, fishing, trapping and continued reports of infractions of the
Fish and Game Laws, all indicate that the wardens' districts are too
large for the greatest efficiency in administration and law enforcement.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The volume of business transacted by the Fish and Game Commis-
sion has almost doubled during the last ten years, and it has become a
serious administrative problem to take care of this increase due to lim-
ited office space and store room facilities. To relieve this situation ,it is
recommended that serious consideration be given to the construction of a
Fish and Game administration building, should the plans for a State
Capitol office building fail to materialize.

Due to increased demands upon our wildlife, it is important that the
Fish and Game Commission reduce to a minimum the illegal taking of
wildlife in order to provide adequate populations for open seasons on the
various species. All efforts to increase certain wildlife species through
propagation from our hatcheries and game farms, or closed seasons is
greatly diminished if protection through law enforcement is not in-
creased in proportion. There should be no limit as to numbers of Deputy
Game Wardens allowed by law. The number needed to protect our wild-
life and funds available should be the only factors of limitation.

In order to attract and hold the type of personnel needed in our law
enforcement division, there should be no limitation of salary set by law
below the standards required for such a position. It is recommended
that if any salary limitation is retained, that it be a basic salary for
the position with provisions for increases according to merit.

The activities of the Fish and Game Department is gradually in-
creasing from year to year. It can reasonably be expected to continue
to enlarge its fields of activity to keep in step with progress toward
the development of our state. In order to give adequate supervision
in the state-wide fields of activity, it is recommended that necessary
legislation be enacted to provide for a district supervisory system. Re-
organization of the Department to provide for a director in charge of
all activities, personnel and administration, with an assistant director,
Fisheries Supervisor or Superintendent, Wildlife Restoration Supervisor,
and from eight to ten district supervisors would be a progressive step
toward greater coordination, provide better supervision over all ac-
tivities, give greater service to the public and raise the efficiency of
the personnel of the Department.

In addition to the above recommendations it is suggested that the
Fish and Game Laws be amended to provide for:
1. The hiring of legal assistance by the Commission when necessary.

—10—



2. Provide for a commercial seining license to take non-game fish from
waters designated by the Commission, set the fee for the license,
and define the size of a seine or net which must be licensed, and
authorize the Commission to regulate the size of the mesh of all
seines or nets used in designated waters.

3. More definite legislation relative to fur farm licenses, set a date the
report of animals on hand and number pelted is to be submitted to
the Commission, the expiration date of the license, and provisions for
a fee to be paid for capturing certain species of fur bearing animals
from the wild for breeding stock.

4. Greater control by the State Fish and Game Warden in regulating
the sale of hunting and fishing licenses by license agents, and re-
quiring that all moneys received by agents from sale of license be
kept in a separate account which at all times shall belong to the
State of Montana, and remitted to the State Fish and Game Warden
once each month.

5. Changing the expiration date for applying for a permit to destroy
beaver from November 30 to September 30. This change will give
our wardens in the field time to investigate damage claims before
adverse weather conditions hinders or makes reliable inspections
impossible.

6. A shorter open season on mink and muskrats, and provide an open
season during the time the pelts are prime and provide for the
tagging of marten pelts by the Commission.

FISHERIES DIVISION

In the Fisheries Division the past biennium has been both gratifying
and disappointing. It has been disappointing because we have not been
able to do many of the things which were planned because of the shortage
of material and equipment. It has been gratifying because in spite of
ever increasing handicaps, it was possible to maintain an almost normal
production and distribution of fish from our hatcheries.

Much of the credit for maintaining operations is due to the untiring
efforts of the men at the hatcheries who have made every effort to ac-
complish their work with worn out equipment and material shortages.
The greater portion of the output of fish from the hatcheries has been
of a size larger than previous years. Fewer fish in numbers have been
planted, but the increase in number of pounds has off-set any numerical
reduction. In order to distribute the larger sized fish more economically,
a new fish distribution tank was designed for use on a two-ton truck
capable of hauling up to 600 pounds of fish for long distances.

In March of 1945, the Commission purchased the Arlee trout rearing
ponds and hatchery which had been leased by the department for several
years. The development of this property is started, and to date a new
brood pond is nearing completion which is approximately 100 feet wide
and 600 feet long. The purpose of a brood pond of this size is to raise
brood stock for spawning purposes at the hatchery.

A modern cold storage building was completed at the Libby hatchery.
This cold storage room has a capacity of approximately twenty tons of

—11—



perishable fish foods. A call for bids for the construction of similar re-
frigerated storage rooms at the Anaconda, Great Falls, Lewistown, Ham-
ilton, Big Timber and Emigrant hatcheries was made. The Commission
rejected the bids which were received for construction of these storage
rooms for the reason that the bids were in excess of the amount allotted
for construction. Another call for bids will be made when conditions are
more favorable.

The Fish and Game Department with the cooperation of the Phillips
County Wildlife Association built a hatchery at Nelson reservoir for
hatching walleyed pike. The planting of a portion of the output of this
hatchery into Nelson reservoir, together with the seining operations to
remove carp which is carried on each year, should result in greatly im-
proved fishing in this reservoir.

Adjacent to Nelson reservoir, the McNeill Slough was also developed
by the department and the cooperative group to form two lakes which
are now favorable bodies of water for Rainbow Trout.

The Warm Water Fish Cultural Station located at Miles City is
operated by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service in cooperation with the
Montana Fish and Game Department. The planting of streams, lakes and
reservoirs in the eastern part of the state with warm water fish from this
hatchery has provided good fishing for many people who formerly were
denied the sport and recreation of fishing unless they traveled to other
areas.

Fort Peck Lake on the Missouri River is rapidly coming into its own
as a favored fishing area, and now provides good trout fishing as well as
numerous pike, catfish, bass and perch.

FISHERIES IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM

A fish improvement program is under way which will be enlarged as
funds, material and trained personnel become available. It is recognized
that habitat improvement should go hand in hand with fish propagation
and distribution. The program is divided into fields of endeavor as
follows:

1. The building of concrete rearing ponds of the raceway type at
those hatcheries which have a sufficient flow of water will make it pos-
sible to rear more fish to yearling size, give a better control of fish at
all times, and allow grading of fish for size, thereby cutting to a mini-
mum the loss by cannibalism and disease.

2. Program of stream and lake improvement which will increase
natural food production and provide a better game fish habitat in many
waters.

3. The development of a rough fish control program. Unless this
control is made a major part of our fish program, many of the waters
of the state may become less productive of game fish. In the minds of a
great many people, the solution of our fishing problems is simply the
introduction into the waters of more fish. It is now realized that it is
necessary to improve the fish food conditions in the wateis themselves
and also to reduce or i-emove the rough fish which are contaminating so
many waters. It is necessary to reduce as much as possible rough fish

—12—



populations in many waters where rough fish compete with game fish in
such numbers that a reduction in game fish results.

4. The department is in the process of acquiring new sources of
suitable water for development of new hatcheries and rearing ponds.
When ever possible, the raceway type rearing pond will be installed be-
cause of its greater efficiency in fish production. The adoption of better
feed formulas, especially in the more heavily oxygenated waters of the
raceway type pond, should materially increase the weight of planted fish.

The above program is intended to increase facilities for production
at the hatcheries and contribute toward greater productivity of game fish
habitat in lakes and streams throughout the state.

WILDLIFE RESTORATION
« Introduction

The Restoration program became possible following the Assent Act
of the 1941 Montana Legislative Assembly to Federal Aid in Wildlife
Development. By this Act, funds that were going into the Federal
Treasury from a Wye excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition
were made available to the Fish and Game Departments of the various
states as an aid in the restoration of their wildlife resources.

The amount allotted each state is based on the actual size of the
state and the number of hunting licenses sold in each. Due to its rela-
tively large size, Montana is eighth in the amount allotted. Much as
our Federal Aid to highway program, the State matches Federal funds
on a 25-75'^'r basis; that is, the State pays 259f of the cost of the various
projects. Each of the projects undertaken is originated and planned
by the State and the personnel to supervise and carry them out are
chosen by it. The Government, acting through the Fish and Wildlife
Service requires only that the projects undertaken are substantial in
character and that they will definitely benefit wildlife. For convenience,
this unit of the Fish and Game Department has been called the Restora-
tion Division.

As explained in former biennial reports, the work undertaken has
been state-wide in scope and as would be expected in a state of this
size, the projects are diverse in character.

Wildlife Development Projects

Careful investigations throughout important wildlife areas of the
state, indicated a definite need for various development projects. The
trapping and transplanting of game species has been an important de-
velopment project. In all cases the animals and birds nioved have


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Online LibraryMontana Fish and Game CommissionBiennial report, Montana Game and Fish Commission, State of Montana (Volume 1945-1946) → online text (page 1 of 3)