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Recreational Shooting of Nongame Species

There are a number of species found in Montana that are classified by Montana statute as nongame wildlife, some are shot for sport while others are shot for consumption. Examples of these species include raccoon, red fox, hares, marmots, tree squirrels, ground squirrels and prairie dogs. There are currently no regulations restricting the shooting of nongame species.

Shooting of any animals on private land requires landowner permission. Shooting of animals on public land may require land management agency permits or fees. For details on Forest Service, BLM or other public lands, contact the appropriate land management agency.

Prairie dogs and other nongame species are protected on many national wildlife refuges. Check with each refuge before shooting on refuge lands. [Prairie dog distribution map]

Other Considerations

Be safe! Bullets can travel a long distance. Be sure no roads, buildings or other structures are in the background. Humans, including ranchers and researchers, may be present on or near prairie dog colonies.

Be healthy! Prairie dogs are susceptible to sylvatic plague, and most are host to fleas. Don’t handle prairie dogs or other nongame wildlife unless you have to.

Be courteous! Leave all gates in the manner you found them. Don’t trespass, and pick up your litter including spent cartridge cases.

Be legal!You need a special State Lands recreational Use License to recreate on state school-trust property. This includes shooting of predatory and nongame wildlife.

International visitors must purchase a state Conservation license in order to bring firearms across the international border. Contact the U.S. Customs Service or the U. S. Border Patrol for more information.

If you see or suspect a poaching incident or other hunting or fishing violation, call Montana’s toll-free wildlife crime hotline: 1-800-TIP-MONT (800) 847-6668. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for cash rewards.

Fees

Fees

There are no FWP fees required to shoot nongame wildlife species including prairie dogs, ground squirrels, and coyotes. Nonresidents must purchase a Conservation License and a Nonresident Trapping License to take nongame wildlife using traps and/or snares.

Land management fees may be applicable. Visit the DNRC Web site This link leaves the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Web site. for more information about state lands recreation fees.

Laws

Laws

The following laws cover nongame wildlife and land use:

  • Regulations to manage nongame wildlifeMCA 87-5-105 This link leaves the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Web site.
  • Vertebrate pest management programMCA 80-7-1101 This link leaves the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Web site.
  • (Temporary) Recreational use license required to use state lands for general recreational purposes—penalty—exemption— MCA 77-1-801 This link leaves the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Web site.
  • Rules for recreational use of state landsMCA 77-1-804 This link leaves the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Web site.
  • (Temporary) Recreational use agreement for hunting, fishing, and trapping on legally accessible state trust landMCA 77-1-815 This link leaves the Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks Web site.