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Antelope herd on highway

Conservation > Migration & Movement Role of Private Lands

Montana has approximately 23,000 landowners who own nearly 64 million acres of private land, much of which offers excellent habitat for the diversity of Montana wildlife. Over 26 million acres in Montana are federally owned. This mix of ownership makes collaboration to conserve diverse landscapes critical. Montana private landowners manage the majority of our unparalleled wildlife habitat and FWP will always put a priority on meeting landowner needs on behalf of Montana’s wildlife legacy. As changes in habitats and land uses occur, wildlife movement and migration will be an increasingly important part of working with private landowners, agencies, and communities.

FWP distributes nearly $30 million to Montana landowners each year who are involved in Block Management, conservation easements, and other wildlife habitat and hunter access programs.

FWP’s challenge is how to promote habitat conservation for wildlife movement in a way that meets and leverages public expectations and interest, and is tangibly responsive to private landowner concerns. FWP recognizes that wildlife movement and migration can result in negative outcomes such as agricultural damage, livestock loss, disease transmission, and human safety issues. FWP will continue working with private landowners, communities, and other partners to reduce adverse impacts on private lands and increase resources to support private landowners and their communities.

Collaboration is Key

Collaborative work in Northeast Montana to modify fencing has involved private landowners, non-governmental organizations and state and federal agencies and improved the ability of pronghorn antelope to move across the landscape. This type of collaboration ensures everyone has a seat at the table to discuss and implement effective solutions that benefit migrating wildlife while ensuring needs of working lands producers are met. For the Big Hole pronghorn population, movement data from the past two winters readily identified over 30 miles of semi- and impermeable fences on the Horse Prairie winter range. Partnerships to update or remove fencing is critical to ensuring continued survival of the Big Hole pronghorn and other wildlife populations across Montana. Collaborative work in the Upper Big Hole to study sage grouse movements has similarly involved private landowners and other organizations and agencies. Other groups like the Blackfoot Challenge along the Blackfoot River are examples where a landowner-led organization works with public agencies and other non-profits to keep landscapes open for wildlife and meet the needs of the local community.

FWP is Committed to Private Landowner Assistance to Conserve Habitat Important to Migration

Conservation of priority wildlife habitats is a core function of FWP. We routinely work in collaboration with private landowners and state and federal agencies on habitat conservation to meet the needs of the producer and the resource. FWP can assist private landowners with a variety of important conservation projects such as fencing riparian and wetland areas to protect habitat important for migrating songbirds.

Landowner Resources

Conservation Easements and Fee Title Acquisitions

Helping landowners conserve key habitat, including wildlife movement corridors.

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Noxious Weed Management

The Montana Wildlife Habitat Improvement Act provides federal funding to restore priority wildlife habitats by managing noxious weeds.

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Fence Modification

Not all fences create problems for wild animals. By tailoring fence design and placement, landowners can reduce wildlife injuries and decrease damage to the fence.

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Game Damage

FWP is committed to reducing agricultural conflicts caused by migrating wildlife

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Disease transmission

Commingling of elk and livestock and the associated risk of brucellosis transmission while maintaining elk on the landscape.

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