BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — New rules have been approved to help guide elk hunts before and after Montana’s general archery and rifle seasons.

The Billings Gazette reports the Fish and Wildlife Commission approved the so-called “shoulder season” guidelines Thursday that would allow hunting to start as early as August in approved areas, with a late season extending until February.

The commission also agreed to allow late hunts using the new rules this winter on private lands in certain districts. The hunts would be permissible for this season only.

Landowners in support of the extended hunting season say it will help control the growing population of elk. But others say the new rules don’t address an important issue _ the harboring of elk where public hunting is limited or not allowed.

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Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com