This season marks the first new special permits hunt for big game at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. From November 1 through November 25, two hunters per day will be allowed to take elk, pronghorn, mule deer and whitetail deer.

 Applications for this special hunt will be accepted throughout August, with a lottery drawing for permits held on September 4. Hunters can request three hunting dates on their initial application. A random-number generator will determine those who get permits and successful applicants will be assigned one of their requested dates if available. If none are available, the first available date will be assigned.

 Refuge Manager Bill West said an expansion of hunting areas within the refuge is designed to allow more opportunities for hunters while remaining sensitive to other public uses of the refuge. This hunt should provide time and space separation from other user groups.

 The refuge is located in Beaverhead County, 40 miles east of Lima, MT. From the west, take Interstate 15 to the Monida exit, then east 28 miles on a gravel road to the refuge headquarters. From the east, 45 miles west of West Yellowstone, Montana via Highway 20 to Red Rock Road, then west through Red Rock Pass to the refuge. The final 26 miles of this road are also gravel.

Both state and refuge regulations will be in effect in designated areas.

 Copies of the application form and regulations are available at refuge’s headquarters, by email at at the website or by surface mail. Call 406-276-3536 or fax 406-276-3538.

    Red Rock Lakes NWR was established April 22, 1935 “as a refuge and breeding ground for wild birds and animals.” The refuge is 77 years old this year and remains one of the country’s most important breeding grounds for the majestic trumpeter swan.

The refuge encompasses more than 50,000 acres and contains two shallow lakes and numerous other wetlands, creeks, streams and the Red Rock River. Located in the east end of the Centennial Valley, it is the largest wetland complex in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The backdrop of the refuge is the Centennial Mountains and continental divide.

 More than 200 species of birds spend the summer in the refuge, including the protected trumpeter swan, along with geese, ducks, moose, elk and pronghorns.

 Managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, there are more than 550 national wildlife refuges across the country covering more than 150 million acres. They offer  a variety of activities including fishing, hunting, environmental education, wildlife observation and photography. Many refuges also offer nature hikes, boating and canoeing, bird watching tours, wildlife drives and trails, and other adventures. Each year about 40 million Americans and foreign visitors discover the wonders of untouched nature at a wildlife refuge. There is at least one refuge in every state, most within an hour’s drive of major cities.