All early season hunters need to make wildfire prevention a top priority.
Citing active wildfires and extreme fire danger across the state, Governor Steve Bullock issued an executive order on Aug. 16 declaring a fire emergency in Montana.
“Montana is facing extreme fire conditions. This declaration will provide additional resources to the brave men and women fighting these fires,” Bullock said. “As firefighters continue to battle blazes across the state, I encourage Montanans to be aware of fires in their area, obey any evacuation orders that may be issued, and ensure they’re not taking actions that might spark new fires.”
The declaration allows Bullock to mobilize state resources and the Montana National Guard to combat the fires, as well as expend funds to meet the contingencies and needs that may arise from them.
About 5,000 Montana archery hunters can head afield beginning Aug. 15 with their 900 series antelope hunting licenses. Montana’s archery-only hunting season for deer, elk, antelope, black bear, wolf and mountain lion begins Sept. 5. Most upland game birds seasons open Sept. 1. The bighorn sheep archery season begins Sept. 5.
Hunters driving on roads with drying vegetation along the edges or growing down the middle of a two-track road can cause late-summer fire starts.
“Hunters have a big responsibility to be fire conscious,” said Ron Aasheim, spokesman for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks in Helena. “It is a matter of human safety and protecting private property and the resources of Montana.”
- Drive only on established roads.
- Avoid roads with tall vegetation in the middle track.
- Never park over dry grass and other vegetation.
- Carry a fire extinguisher—or water-filled weed sprayer—shovel, axe, and, a cell phone for emergency calls.
- Restrict camping activities to designated camping areas.
- Build campfires only in established metal fire rings, if allowed.
- Smoke only inside buildings or vehicles.
- Check on any fire restrictions in place.
“Being able to respond is essential in the first few seconds of a fire start when it’s small and easy to extinguish,” Aasheim said. “Have an action plan for fire starts as well as for other types of accidents, severe injuries and other emergencies.”