BILLINGS — A new state law increases the penalty for some vandalism, like that which has occurred at several south central Montana fishing access sites during recent weeks.
The law, passed by the 2009 state legislature, requires forfeiture of hunting and fishing privileges for two years for anyone convicted of vandalizing Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks property.
In recent weeks, vandals have cut up and burned picnic tables at the Rosebud Isle and Castle Rock fishing access sites in the Stillwater drainage, shot holes in signs at the Bridger Bend and Indian Fort fishing access sites, stolen or painted signs at Gritty Stone and Duck Creek and stolen latrine doors at Arapoosh fishing access sites.
The materials, labor and cost of delivering replacement picnic tables could run upward of $500 each. Depending on size and materials, shot-up signs can cost as much as $400 to replace.
Under the new law, those convicted of vandalizing FWP property are required to forfeit their current hunting and fishing licenses and give up their hunting and fishing privileges for two years, in addition to any fines and restitution ordered by the courts.
The bulk of funding for fishing access sites comes from fishing license sales, so sportsmen are bearing most of the cost of the vandalism. Anyone with information about vandalism at fishing access sites is encouraged to call the 1-800-TIP-MONT, the FWP’s crime reporting line. Those with information leading to a conviction could qualify for a reward of as much as $1,000.
The 1-800-TIP-MONT (800-847-6668) program is a toll-free number where people can report violations of fish, wildlife or park regulations. Callers may remain anonymous. It is similar to the well-known Crimestoppers program and offers rewards for information resulting in apprehension of persons who abuse Montana's natural, historic or cultural resources.