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Nongame Shooting FAQ

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Do I need a license to shoot prairie dogs, white-tailed or black-tailed prairie dogs, in Montana?

Prairie dogs are currently classified under Montana statute as nongame wildlife. They are also classified as agricultural pests managed by the Montana Department of Agriculture. The Department of Agriculture does not regulate shooting of nongame wildlife. You do not need a license to shoot prairie dogs.

Species characteristics, range maps and information on the role of prairie dogs in Montana ecosystems

See species characteristics, range maps and information on the role of prairie dogs in Montana ecosystems.

Do I need a license to shoot ground squirrels including Wyoming, Uinta, Richardson's, Columbia, Thirteen-lined, and Golden Mantle, and Franklin's?

Like prairie dogs, ground squirrels are currently classified by Montana statue as nongame wildlife. You do not need a license to shoot ground squirrels.

Species characteristics, range maps and information on the role of squirrels in Montana ecosystems

Click on the links below for species characteristics, range maps and information on the role of squirrels in Montana ecosystems.

What is the difference between a prairie dog and a ground squirrel?

Adult prairie dogs are typically 11-14" in length. Ground squirrels are smaller, typically 8-10" in length. Prairie dogs appear thick and chunky and are found in colonies with obvious mounds within the colony. Ground squirrels can be found in many types of habitats and will not have distinctive mounds near by.

Are there animals associated with prairie dog colonies or ground squirrel habitats that are illegal to shoot?

Yes! Burrowing owls, mountain plovers, and black-footed ferrets are all federally protected species that are associated with prairie dog colonies or ground squirrel habitats. It is illegal to shoot at or kill these species. In addition to these species, there are many other smaller and less visible species that are protected by state and/or federal statue that are illegal to shoot at or kill. You are required to know how to identify protected species. KNOW YOUR TARGET!!

Where should I go to shoot prairie dogs or ground squirrels?

FWP and BLM regional field staff may be able to provide guidance on public land opportunities. Shooters are required to have landowner permission to shoot or hunt wildlife on private lands in Montana. Prairie dogs are found primarily in central and eastern Montana, while ground squirrels can be found throughout Montana. See the range maps for each species in the Montana Field Guide.