On the Horizon: Montana Black Bear Hound Hunting and Chase Season

Contact: Ellary TuckerWilliams, Rocky Mountain States Senior Coordinator, Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation 

Highlights:

  • Montana Governor Greg Gianforte enacted House Bill 468 (HB 468) allowing the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission to establish a season for black bear hunting with hounds and a separate hound training season.
  • Despite being incorrectly labeled by anti-hunters as inhumane and unethical, hound hunting allows a level of selective harvest not available to spot-and-stalk hunters.
  • The use of hounds provides a unique way for sportsmen and women to participate in a successful hunt, but also allows hunters to better fulfill their ethical obligations as conservationists.

Why it Matters: Despite biased propaganda pushed by the anti-hunting community, the use of hounds in the pursuit of black bears is not only ethical and humane, but it also allows sportsmen and women increased time and opportunity to evaluate an animal prior to harvest. Upon evaluation, should the animal not fall within sustainable harvest objectives and regulations, it is released unharmed. The enactment of HB 468 - Hound Hunting and Chase Seasons for Black Bears - increases Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ management flexibility and provides additional opportunities for Montana’s sportsmen and women.

Montana wasted no time this legislative session in moving the needle on sportsmen’s policy, and House Bill 468 - Hound Hunting and Chase Seasons for Black Bears – is no exception. Enacted by Governor’s Sportsmen’s Caucus Member Governor Greg Gianforte on April 30, HB 468 allows the Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission to establish a season for black bear hunting with hounds and a separate hound training season from the end of the spring black bear season until June 15. During the spring training season, sportsmen and women can train hounds by pursuing black bears without the ability to harvest.

Like many of our outdoor sporting activities, hound hunting has attracted the attention of the anti-hunting community, claiming the use of hounds in the pursuit of predators is inhumane and unethical. However, nothing could be further from the truth. The use of hounds provides a unique way for sportsmen and women to participate in a successful hunt, but also allows hunters to better fulfill their ethical obligations as conservationists.

By pursuing predators like black bears, mountain lions, and bobcats with dogs, sportsmen and women have increased time and opportunity to evaluate an animal prior to harvest. Using this method, hunters can determine the age and sex of an animal, in addition to the presence of offspring. Should the animal not fall within sustainable harvest objectives and regulations, it is released unharmed. This important tool provides safeguards against exploitation of wildlife populations, increases Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks’ management flexibility and provides additional opportunities for Montana’s sportsmen and women.  The use of hounds allows a level of selective harvest not available to spot-and-stalk hunters, which gives state biologists better data to accurately set season dates and quotas.

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