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Stream Access Rights Exclude Big Game Hunting


Fri Nov 22 00:00:00 MST 1996

Hunters pursuing big game along the banks of Montana's rivers and streams this fall should be aware that big game hunting is not allowed under the public's right to use accessible waterways for recreational purposes.

When Montana's stream access law was passed by the 1985 Legislature, language specifically allowing the Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission to authorize big game hunting with archery equipment or shotguns along navigable river corridors was incorporated. However, two years later the Montana Supreme Court declared this provision of the stream access law unconstitutional when it decided that big game hunting is not a necessary part of the right granted the public for its recreational use of the state's waterways. As a result, hunters pursuing big game on land between the high water marks of rivers and streams flowing through private property are trespassing, unless they have secured the permission of landowners.

Hunters with questions should contact their local game wardens.