I attended the Billings hearing last night. The sporting dog community was well represented and vocal.
Montana FWP announced that they were NOT going to pursue rule-making in this matter but were expecting that it would take the form of proposed legislation, which would be a comprehensive overhaul and total re-write of proposed regulations. In other words, they tossed the potato upstairs. It is now highly possible that the proposed legislation will not be ready until some time next year, and might never move out of committee to the floor for a vote.
HOWEVER, the FWP has asked for comments to assist in shaping the possible legislation and we should all put pen to paper (or get on our keyboards) to suggest some sensible permitting rules and process that would protect the wild bird resource and the ability to train on wild birds before and after the nesting season. With a formal permitting process in place the state would know how many trainers are training dogs on wild birds, where they are training, and how many dogs are being trained. It is my belief that this actual (not imagined) data will reveal that the 'problem' is largely imaginary.
I will post a link to the proper forms and a contact point as soon as I am able.
Meanwhile, you may continue training as always. Please have a good thought for those people who stood up and forced this frivolous rule making to take a more sensible course.
5 days ago