A revised law aimed at curbing the abuse of a Montana program for disabled hunters will require all permitted hunters to be medically recertified to obtain a valid permit to hunt from a vehicle.
The permit allows a disabled person who can't walk without assistance to hunt from a car, truck or other vehicle.
The recertification requirement becomes effective March 1. Only a licensed physician, chiropractor, physician assistant, or advanced practice registered nurse can attest to a disabled person's qualifying condition.
Montana lawmakers made the change in response to requests from disabled-hunter organizations who said the existing Permit to Hunt From a Vehicle privilege was being abused by able-bodied hunters and that the program had lost the respect of landowners and disabled and able-bodied hunters alike.
In 2008, before a hunting regulation change that allowed PTHFV holders to take antlerless elk with a general elk license nearly anywhere in the state, FWP issued 512 new permits to disabled hunters with qualifying conditions. By 2009, the year after the change, more than 1,430 new permits were issued.
Between 2008 and 2012, when the regulation was revised, the lifetime PTHFV list had jumped from about 5,000 to about 11,000 permit holders.
"It appeared many sought the permit to be able to take an antlerless elk," said Mike Korn, FWP's assistant chief of law enforcement in Helena.
The new law substantially narrows the eligibility for a PTHFV to those whose mobility is so impaired they'd be unable to leave their vehicle or travel only a few steps from their vehicle unaided by appliances or equipment. The law further requires all permit holders to always be accompanied by a companion who can assist in perusing and field dressing a game animal harvest by the disabled permit holder.
FWP recently notified all current PTHFV holders that they must establish whether or not they still qualify for a permit. New permit application forms were sent to all PTHFV holders, with additional information about changes to the law.
Similarly, all licensed medical professionals in Montana who have authority by the law to sign off on the PTHFV's were sent letters notifying them of the changes and urging them to be sure their patients qualify for the permit under the new rules.
For more information visit FWP online at fwp.mt.gov; click 2014 Permit To Hunt From A Vehicle.