Montana hunters will have to be more careful in the field if two proposed bills are passed by legislative committees.
Two bills that would greatly affect Montana hunters are making their way to legislatives committees this week.
The proposed bills would increase penalties for Montana hunters in regard to certain offenses if they pass the legislative committees.
Senate Bill 21 mandates automatic 24-month forfeiture of fishing, hunting, and trapping opportunities for Montana hunters who purchase replacement licenses under false pretenses. House Bill 150 carries a mandatory two-year ban on first offenses for illegal hunting from a public highway and illegal use of vehicle while hunting, and a mandatory two-year ban for second offenses of hunter harassment.
The Senate bill came to light because law enforcement officials claim that people are purchasing a license, harvesting game, and then buying a replacement license to continually hunt.
Rob Aasheim, FWP administrator, told reporters, “We’ve had instances where some of that occurs and it’s an honest mistake, but we know the opportunity has been abused.”
Senator Jill Cohenor, the Senate bill carrier, introduced a similar senate bill in 2007 and feels this current bill is a continuation of that same effort.
Cohenor told reporters, “In Montana a lot of times they don’t care so much if they’re fined for something, but they do care if they can’t access the resources. It’s a good deal to up those penalties and show there are consequences.”
Representative Kelly Flynn brought the House bill to light because there have been many instances of feuds between landowners and hunters lately.
As a rancher and outfitter, Flynn feels the House bill will hold all parties accountable.
It cuts both ways, whether you’re a landowner, outfitter or sportsman. The number of instances were quite large last year and I’m confident the enforcement people will testify to that.
Nick Gevock, outreach director for the Montana Wildlife Federation, told reporters that hunters’ behavior need to be addressed; “It seems like this might be a new trend instead of going with fines to going with a loss of hunting privileges to curb some illegal and unethical hunter behavior. It’ll be interesting to see if it’s successful as it is part of a much larger issue of ethics.”
The FWP supports both bills and hopes to see a change in regulations and behavior if they are passed.
Aasheim told reporters, “In many cases good people make bad decisions. We don’t really know for the people that do this intentionally if it is enough of a deterrent. It does raise awareness and gives hunters another thing to think about before they maybe make a bad decision.”