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Recreational Shooting of Predators

Montana statute classifies predators as coyote, weasel, (striped) skunk, and civet cat (spotted skunk). Predator shooting is not regulated by federal or state law or regulation. Predators can be shot in Montana year-round without a license by both resident and nonresident hunters. A Conservation License, or a state school trust lands recreational use license, is required to shoot predators on state school trust lands. Permission must be obtained to shoot predators on private land.

Nonresidents are required to purchase a Nonresident Trapping License to take nongame or predatory species using traps and/or snares. See the Deer, Elk and Antelope regulations below for more information about take of predatory species.

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.



There are no FWP fees required to shoot predators. Nonresidents must purchase a Conservation License and a Nonresident Trapping License to take predatory animals using traps and/or snares.

Land management fees may be applicable.



The following laws cover nongame wildlife and land use:

  • Regulations to manage nongame wildlife — MCA 87-5-105
  • Vertebrate pest management program — MCA 80-7-1101
  • (Temporary) Recreational use license required to use state lands for general recreational purposes—penalty—exemption— MCA 77-1-801
  • Rules for recreational use of state lands — MCA 77-1-804
  • (Temporary) Recreational use agreement for hunting, fishing, and trapping on legally accessible state trust land — MCA 77-1-815
  • Class C-2 — nonresident trapper's license (Nonresidents must purchase a Nonresident Trapper's License to trap or snare predatory and nongame wildlife species.) — MCA 87-2-603