Welcome to the Valley

Field Notes

I've heard that phrase several times since moving back to the area and starting my position as the Seeley Lake Game Warden. I'd like to thank everyone I've met, from the bottom of my heart, for being so welcoming! This monthly column will be a place I can inform the community about important Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks information, dates and opportunities, as well as an expression of my creative side. I hope you enjoy!

As the sun dips beneath the lodgepole horizon, I smile. It's the end of yet another day in God's country, Seeley Lake, Montana.

That day I'd started my patrol by driving to the snowmobile trailheads. Snow conditions had been the hot topic of the morning and surely more was needed for an adequate snowpack. I sighed quietly and thought, snow conditions like these can be dangerous to inexperienced riders who can haphazardly trigger avalanches. I knew the Search & Rescue team had been out already to help injured and lost snowmobilers. Hopefully, the season would progress without tragedy.

I returned to my pickup, pausing to note that I should take time to tidy my mess from a busy hunting season. For more than a month in the fall, my pickup is my dinner table, closet, office desk and solace from the cold. My back seat contained everything I'd need to do my job- from extra clothes and evidence kits to stacks of regulations and education hand-outs. A sort of organized chaos would often be seen when I opened my door to greet the occasional passerby.

As I buckled my seat belt and turned up the radio, I thought about what tomorrow would bring. But then again, in this job I knew that predicting how a day would unfold was useless. The ring of my cell phone or a call from dispatch could change my plans in an instant.

This is just a window into one of my days on the job, and I'll be covering many Fish, Wildlife and Parks topics in more detail as the months go along.

For now, here are a few helpful reminders:

• Please avoid feeding wildlife. Supplemental feed and other attractants cause unnatural congregations of deer. This can be problematic for several reasons: deer in large groups can transmit disease more readily, can attract predators like mountain lions into populated areas, and cause traffic disruptions and road hazards.

• The Blackfoot Clearwater Game Range remains closed through May 15th. Area residents are reminded that the game range is occupied by logging operations and heavy machinery during the winter months.

• Winter is here, which means trappers are active in some places around Seeley Lake. Interfering with lawfully placed traps is illegal, but if you suspect a trap may be unlawful, call the local warden or 1-800-TIP-MONT.

Thanks for reading! I'm happy to entertain suggestions on monthly topics, whether it be something you've always wanted to know about or an explanation about a certain regulation.


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