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Comments sought on migratory waterfowl haven

December 25, 2018

Wildlife officials say migratory waterfowl seeking a place for resting and refueling find both at the North Shore Wildlife Management Area along Flathead Lake.

The Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has put together a draft management plan for the 427-acre wildlife management area, which was acquired in three phases between 2008 and 2016. The agency seeks public comment about the draft plan.

Dillon Tabish, a spokesman for Region One of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said that, in many ways, the plan formalizes how the agency has been managing the area in recent years.

Agriculture would remain the department’s primary management tool. The wildlife management area will continue to be leased to a grower who, in lieu of payment, leaves a portion of the crop standing in the field.

Franz Ingelfinger, a restoration ecologist with Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said Flathead Lake’s north shore in an important landscape for many reasons, including its role as a critical staging area for migratory waterfowl.

“FWP’s primary goal for the North Shore [wildlife management area] is to manage seasonal wetlands and agricultural fields to provide resting and refueling habitat for migratory waterfowl,” he said.

“The secondary goals include promoting habitat for upland game birds, songbirds and other nongame bird species, and to provide public opportunities for outdoor recreation, such as hunting and bird watching.”

The North Shore Wildlife Management Area is traditional farmland that features a mix of cultivated grain fields, seasonally flooded grasslands and wooded uplands along Flathead Lake.

The property abuts the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s 1,887-acre North Shore Waterfowl Production area.

According to Fish, Wildlife and Parks, these areas host tens of thousands of migrating waterfowl that rest and feed along the north shore.

The draft management plan’s proposals include, but are not limited to: drainage ditch improvements, naturalization of certain areas to expand permanent cover and the use of food plots and “leave grain” to provide forage and shelter for migrating waterfowl and upland birds.

The North Shore Wildlife Management Area draft management plan is available on the Fish, Wildlife and Parks website:

http://fwp.mt.gov/news/publicNotices/environmentalAssessments/plans/pn_0025.html.

A copy of the plan can also be obtained by contacting the FWP Kalispell area office at 406-752-5501; Montana State Library, 1515 E. Sixth Ave., Helena; FWP State Headquarters, 1420 E. Sixth Ave., Helena; or by emailing fingelfinger@mt.gov, and is available for viewing at local libraries.

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