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Fish & Wildlife keeps part of Yellowstone River closed to bird hunting

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Posted at 10:23 PM, Apr 17, 2024

FORSYTH - A proposed plan to open up an 87-mile stretch of the Yellowstone River to bird hunting has been shot down yet again.

Montana Fish Wildlife & Parks had proposed opening that stretch of river frontage to waterfowl hunting which would have upended a 66-year ban.

Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Brian Cebull from Region 5, proposed keeping that portion closed and the rest of the commission agreed.

That Yellowstone River frontage starts at the confluence with the Big Horn River and extends to the Rosebud-Custer county line.

During a Zoom meeting on Wednesday, Cebull and other commissioners cited the high number of public comments as the reason for keeping the river closed.

Hunters and landowners say the river provides a refuge for geese flying south for the winter.

They also say it would have been a challenge retrieving hunted birds on private land and on the river during times it is frozen.

Outfitters say the area is world-renowned for goose hunting.

“We have 66 years of this closure and it’s definitely become part of the pattern and part of the success,” Cebull said. “And maybe what some have said is some of the best field hunting in Montana and maybe in the region.

The number of geese have been consistently in the 400,000 to 500,000 after reaching a low point in 1958, when the closure went into effect.

RELATED: Hunters, landowners oppose proposal to open Yellowstone River near Forsyth to bird hunting