In 1973, the Montana legislature passed a law clarifying FWP's responsibility to manage all wildlife, including nongame species. Montana statute defines nongame wildlife as "any wild mammal, bird, amphibian, reptile, fish, mollusk, crustacean, or other animal not otherwise legally classified by statute or regulation of this state" (MCA 87-5-102 (6)). Basically, nongame animals are classified by what they're not - meaning any animal not classified as big game, upland game birds, migratory game birds, furbearer or predator.
Over 85% of Montana's birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians are classified as nongame, totaling almost 500 species. Think of all the familiar wildlife in your backyard—finches, bluebirds, robins, and woodpeckers, as well as chipmunks, shrews, toads, salamanders, and turtles. We are surrounded by nongame wildlife everyday and everywhere we go in Montana. These species are incredibly important to the balance of nature as they serve as predators, prey, excavators, pollinators, and so much more. These species also enrich our lives serving as entertainment during our days outside and as educational tools for our children to learn about the natural world.
The public, not the sportsman, owns the game.
The public is (and the sportsman ought to be) just as much interested in conserving non-game species, forests, fish, and other wild life as in conserving game.
In the long run lop-sided programs dealing with game only, songbirds only, forests only, or fish only, will fail because they cost too much, use up too much energy in friction, and lack sufficient volume of support."
-- Aldo Leopold, Report to the American Game Conference on an American Game Policy, 1930.