FWP's Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) are managed with wildlife and wildlife habitat conservation as the priority. WMAs protect important wildlife habitat that might otherwise disappear from the Montana landscape. Wildlife Habitat Protection Areas (WHPAs) are also managed as wildlife habitat, but are typically smaller properties that require little management, including islands and small isolated land parcels. All of these wildlife properties provide vital habitat for a variety of wildlife including bear, bighorn sheep, birds, deer, elk, furbearers, moose, mountain goats, wolves and an array of other game and nongame species.
Wildlife Management Areas (WMAs) that provide critical winter range for big game are typically closed to public use from December 2 to noon on May 15. Dates may vary depending on the site.
In 2006, the FWP Commission adopted rules governing commercial use on WMAs. Criteria were defined to ensure that any commercial use authorized at a WMA is consistent with the management objectives of the site and the public's use of the site.
Commercial Use means any person or entity that utilizes land under the control, administration, and jurisdiction of the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks for consideration.
Commercial use includes any person, group or organization, that makes or attempts to make a profit, vend a service or product, receive money, amortize equipment, or obtain goods or services as compensation from participants in activities occurring on land that is under the control, administration, and jurisdiction of the Department. This includes nonprofit organizations and educational groups that receive money from participants in activities occurring on Department land. This includes a person whose business operates on Department land, regardless of that person's physical presence at the site, but does not include a person who rents, sells, or otherwise provides equipment or merchandise that is used on department land unless the renting, selling, delivering, or providing of equipment or merchandise takes place on Department land.
Examples of commercial use that are governed by these rules include but are not limited to:
guided walks or tours
guided angling or hunting
professional dog training
research when accompanied by paying clients
any combination thereof
FWP charges a fee to conduct commercial use on FWP land. The fee is a way to compensate the public for the opportunity to conduct commercial use on public land. The fee also helps to offset impacts on sites and facilities and cover the cost of administering the use. Commercial use fees help to pay for the management and improvement of FWP sites and facilities.
Fees for conducting commercial use on FWP fishing access sites, wildlife management areas, and restricted rivers, are established by the following Commercial Use Fee Rule.
The following must obtain a Commercial Use Permit to conduct commercial use at a Fishing Access Site or Wildlife Management Area:
Licensed outfitters and water based service providers operating on restricted rivers
Photographers, special events, guided tours, watercraft livery, rental or demonstration
See the reference guides below for more information about permit requirements for different types of commercial use:
Guided Tours (PDF)
Water-based Outfitting (PDF)