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Herd of elk behind a fence on private land

Conservation: Landowner Programs Game Damage Program

About the Program

Game damage occurs when wildlife such as elk, deer, and antelope concentrate on private farms and ranches and damage crops and property. 

Landowners may be eligible for game damage assistance if they allow public hunting during established hunting seasons. Assistance may include hazing, repellants, temporary or permanent stackyard fencing, damage hunts, kill permits, or supplemental game damage licenses.

Landowners may report game damage to the local game warden, FWP biologist or FWP regional office.

Typically, game damage hunts are small in geographic scale and occur only on one landowner's land, with a relatively small number of hunters recruited from the Hunt Roster and, if requested by FWP, a list of names submitted by the landowner (no more than 25% of the total hunters may be selected from the landowner’s list.)

The primary intent of a damage hunt is to reduce crop and property damage by re-distributing game animals with only minimal harvest.

 

Management Hunts

A management hunt is a proactive measure to prevent or reduce potential damage caused by large concentrations of game animals resulting from seasonal migrations, extreme weather conditions, restrictive public hunting access on adjacent or nearby properties, or other factors. Management hunts typically occur on a larger scale than game damage hunts and may take place across multiple ownerships. There may be relatively large numbers of hunters recruited from the Hunt Roster for a longer period of time with the potential for a significant harvest. Some hunters (no more than 25% of the total) may also be selected from a list of names submitted by the landowner or landowners, if requested by FWP.)

 

Supplemental Game Damage License Hunts

A supplemental game damage license hunt is a very small-scale measure trying to harvest no more than 12 animals to prevent or reduce crop or property damage in situations where larger-scale game damage hunts or management hunts are not applicable.

By law (MCA 87-2-520), the Department may issue a specific type of license called supplemental game damage license, valid only for antlerless or doe/fawn elk, deer, or antelope, and valid only for a specific property, specific time period, and this specific type of hunt.

Also by the same law, depending upon whether the hunting district regulations offer limited permits or not, landowners may designate some or all of the hunters who may receive supplemental game damage licenses.

Register to Hunt in the game damage program

Hunters interested in participating in game damage hunts on private land or possible management hunts have from June 15 to July 15 to register online with Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks.

Hunters from this roster may be identified for three types of hunts:

  • Game damage

  • Management

  • Dispersal

The roster is used by FWP to efficiently respond to landowners in the prevention or reduction of damage primarily caused by deer, elk and antelope.

There is no guarantee that hunts will occur in the same hunting district in subsequent years as game animals, weather, natural causes such as fire and drought, human pressure, etc., are all factors for population distribution.

FWP regional offices will be the point of contact for Hunt Roster opportunities. FWP regional offices may attempt to contact eligible hunters by mail, telephone and/or email.

Due to the short time-frame to recruit hunters for a hunt, respondents will be selected and those not responding in a timely manner after three attempted contacts by FWP will go to the end of the list.

 

How to Sign Up

  • The sign up period for the Hunt Roster is June 15–July 15 each year.

  • Sign up for the Hunt Roster on MyFWP.

  • The rosters are randomized at the end of the sign-up period. The roster is NOT on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • Select deer, elk and antelope and choose one available hunting district per species.

  • Hunters are encouraged to select hunting districts they are familiar with and can get to quickly if contacted for a hunt opportunity.

After the registration deadline, FWP will conduct a computerized random drawing process that will award placement of all prospective hunters on the rosters. Results will be available by July 20 to hunters through MyFWP.

The hunts, if they occur, can take place between Aug. 15, 2020, and Feb. 15, 2021.

About the hunt roster

The Hunt Roster is one of the ways FWP selects public hunters to participate in hunts where animals are causing damage to stored agricultural crops or private property.

FWP may also utilize other means of hunter selection in lieu of the Hunt Roster, including first-come, first-served advertised opportunities, unsuccessful special license or permit applicant lists, or lists of names supplied by landowners. In some cases the use of other hunter selection methods may result in a hunting district not being available on the Hunt Roster.

No more than 25% of the total hunters authorized to participate in a game damage hunt or management hunt may be selected from a landowner’s list, and if any antlered animals are authorized for harvest during a hunt, no names may be selected from a landowner’s list.

By statute, a landowner may designate 75% of the hunters eligible to receive supplemental licenses if the hunt occurs in a hunting district with limited permits, and up to 100% of the hunters eligible to receive supplemental licenses if the hunt occurs in an unlimited permit district.

Landowners may be eligible for various types of game damage assistance if they allow public hunting during established hunting seasons. Assistance may include hazing, repellents, temporary or permanent stack-yard fencing, kill permits, game damage hunts, management hunts or supplemental game damage license hunts.

Hunters from the roster may also be used to disperse elk in some areas of southwestern Montana where there is risk of brucellosis transmission between elk and livestock.

Hunter names are cycled through and never deleted from the current Hunt Roster unless they have been identified for a hunt for that species that year. Hunters may only participate in one game damage hunt, management hunt, or management removal for each species per year. Given the General Season Antlerless Deer B Licenses are allocated separately it is possible for hunters to participate in a game damage hunt or management hunt for deer and also receive an antlerless deer B license for use during the general season.

 

Required Fees and Licenses

A Conservation, base hunting license, and valid General Deer, Elk or Antelope hunting license is required to hunt. Valid license types are identified for each hunt. Depending on the type of hunt, the FWP Regional office may require or offer the purchase of additional B license(s).

Contact

FWP Wildlife Division

(406) 444-2612

Or your regional FWP office