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COVID-19 Response and Updates

This page will be updated as information becomes available. (Last update: 6/1/2020)

Resources for latest updates

FWP offices and visitor centers

As the state moves into Phase 2 of Gov. Steve Bullock’s Reopening the Big Sky Plan, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks offices and visitor centers will open to the public June 3.

License Purchasing

License buyers can purchase licenses online or from license providers around the state. Hunters applying for special licenses or permits need to do so online and need to have a valid email address. FWP will mail carcass tags to those who purchase online, and people who have had trouble printing their licenses will receive them in the mail.

In response to COVID-19 and to protect the public as well as staff, FWP has decided to mail our carcass tags, just as we have done in years past. We understand that some people don’t have access to a printer at home. If you purchased a license that requires a carcass tag already this year and have not printed it at home yet, FWP will also mail your carcass tag to you. Please disregard the email with the link to print, it will no longer work.

  • For the foreseeable future, people interested in getting help with application and licensing questions should call the FWP Licensing Call Center at 406-444-2950 or email fwplic@mt.gov.
    The licensing call center will be answering calls from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. At times the call volume is high; please be patient as statewide staff work hard to answer questions in a timely manner.
  • Buy a license online at: https://app.mt.gov/als/index/index.html.

Other Questions?

If you’re trying to reach FWP staff to ask very localized questions outside of licensing issues, please call:

  • Kalispell: 406-751-4564
  • Missoula: 406-542-5503
  • Bozeman: 406-577-7900
  • Great Falls: 406-454-5841
  • Glasgow: 406-228-3702
  • Billings: 406-247-2970
  • Miles City: 406-234-0930 – for Block Management Program questions
  • Aquatic Invasive Species boat check inquiries: 406-444-2440

Hunting Seasons

The nonresident spring turkey and bear seasons resumed April 25.

Additional restrictions could be in effect in individual counties and on Indian reservations. Please consult those jurisdictions before traveling.

All other regularly scheduled hunting seasons are not cancelled at this time. All hunters should practice social distancing and all COVID-19 response directives from the governor, including limiting group gatherings and keeping six feet away from people.

Hunters should also keep this in mind when planning for their hunts. If hunting on private land, landowner permission is required, but should be sought by email or phone, not in person.

Spring 2020 harvest reporting changes:
  • For the spring black bear season, which started April 15, all successful bear hunters are required to report their harvest through the FWP Harvest Reporting Line 1-877-FWP-WILD (1-877-397-9453) within 48 hours of harvest. Unlike in years past, FWP will not require or conduct a carcass inspection, hide seal or tooth collection
  • For remaining otter harvest, all successful otter trappers are required to report their harvest through the FWP Harvest Reporting Line 1-877-FWP-WILD (1-877-397-9453) within 24 hours of harvest. FWP will not require or conduct carcass inspections. Trappers need to coordinate with FWP for a CITES tag placement at a later date.
  • For remaining mountain lion harvest, all successful lion hunters are required to report their harvest through the FWP Harvest Reporting Line 1-877-FWP-WILD (1-877-397-9453) within 12 hours of harvest. FWP will not require or conduct carcass inspection and will not require or place hide seals and will not require or collect teeth. For those lion hunters who received a lion genetic sample kit associated with the lion population estimate occurring between Libby and Plains, please submit the samples as planned.
  • Any person that recovers a bighorn sheep head must report them to the FWP Harvest Reporting Line 1-877-FWP-WILD (1-877-397-9453) within 48 hours and make arrangements with an FWP employee to get the sheep head pinned at a later date when things improve.

Hunter Education

To protect public health and reduce overall spread of COVID-19, we have temporarily cancelled all in-person Hunter Education classes. Since the in-person options aren’t feasible under Phases 1 and 2 of Gov. Steve Bullock’s Reopening the Big Sky plan, FWP will cover the online tuition fees for all Montana residents until the state reaches Phase 3 of the plan and in-person hunter and bowhunter education courses are available once again.

The online courses are available to Montana residents who are at least the age of 12 by Jan. 16, 2021.

Fishing Seasons

Paddlefish Season

The 2020 paddlefish seasons on the Yellowstone and Lower Missouri rivers (yellow tag) are canceled in response to Gov. Steve Bullock’s extension of the directives for social distancing and non-resident quarantine to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Upper Missouri Paddlefish remains open for those who drew a tag. Tags are being mailed. Snag and release permits will not be issued, so this season will only be open for those who drew a tag.

Outfitters and Guides

The Montana Governor’s Office of Outdoor Recreation has updated additional guidance to the “RECREATION GUIDELINES” that are specific for guides that will allow them to put customers in their boats.

FWP Sites

Camping is open at most FWP fishing access sites and state parks.

Group-use sites, including fishing piers, are also open, but social distancing guidelines must be strictly followed.

State Parks

Smith River

Smith River State Park is open to floating but Camp Baker remains closed to overnight camping in compliance with the Governor's COVID-19 directives.

Bannack State Park

The visitor center, campground, group use area, trails and the main street of the town are open, with some restrictions to comply with the governor's COVID-19 directives. Many of the interiors of the historic buildings are closed to the public to minimize the risk of potential COVID 19 transmission.

Visit stateparks.mt.gov for Montana State Parks COVID-19 updates and closures.

Hunter Education