2017 Montana Legislature

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     NEW SECTION.  Section 1.  Missouri river breaks nonresident archery-only subseasons for elk. For any elk hunting district containing a portion of the Missouri river breaks, the archery-only elk season is split into two subseasons of equal length. Nonresidents who intend to hunt elk in one of those hunting districts during the archery-only season shall indicate whether they will hunt in the earlier or the later subseason when applying for the requisite archery-only elk permit.


     Section 2.  Section 87-1-301, MCA, is amended to read:

     "87-1-301.  Powers of commission. (1) Except as provided in subsections (7) and (8), the commission:

     (a)  shall set the policies for the protection, preservation, management, and propagation of the wildlife, fish, game, furbearers, waterfowl, nongame species, and endangered species of the state and for the fulfillment of all other responsibilities of the department related to fish and wildlife as provided by law;

     (b)  except as provided in [section 1], shall establish the hunting, fishing, and trapping rules of the department;

     (c)  except as provided in 23-1-111 and 87-1-303(3), shall establish the rules of the department governing the use of lands owned or controlled by the department and waters under the jurisdiction of the department;

     (d)  must have the power within the department to establish wildlife refuges and bird and game preserves;

     (e)  shall approve all acquisitions or transfers by the department of interests in land or water, except as provided in 23-1-111 and 87-1-209(2) and (4);

     (f)  except as provided in 23-1-111, shall review and approve the budget of the department prior to its transmittal to the office of budget and program planning;

     (g)  except as provided in 23-1-111, shall review and approve construction projects that have an estimated cost of more than $1,000 but less than $5,000;

     (h)  shall manage elk, deer, and antelope populations based on habitat estimates determined as provided in 87-1-322 and maintain elk, deer, and antelope population numbers at or below population estimates as provided in 87-1-323. In developing or implementing an elk management plan, the commission shall consider landowner tolerance when deciding whether to restrict elk hunting on surrounding public land in a particular hunting district. As used in this subsection (1)(h), "landowner tolerance" means the written or documented verbal opinion of an affected landowner regarding the impact upon the landowner's property within the particular hunting district where a restriction on elk hunting on public property is proposed.

     (i)  shall set the policies for the salvage of antelope, deer, elk, or moose pursuant to 87-3-145; and

     (j)  shall comply with, adopt policies that comply with, and ensure the department implements in each region the provisions of state wildlife management plans adopted following an environmental review conducted pursuant to Title 75, chapter 1, parts 1 through 3.

     (2)  The commission may adopt rules regarding the use and type of archery equipment that may be employed for hunting and fishing purposes, taking into account applicable standards as technical innovations in archery equipment change.

     (3)  The commission may adopt rules regarding the establishment of special licenses or permits, seasons, conditions, programs, or other provisions that the commission considers appropriate to promote or enhance hunting by Montana's youth and persons with disabilities.

     (4)  (a) The commission may adopt rules regarding nonresident big game combination licenses to:

     (i)  separate deer licenses from nonresident elk combination licenses;

     (ii) set the fees for the separated deer combination licenses and the elk combination licenses without the deer tag;

     (iii) condition the use of the deer licenses; and

     (iv) limit the number of licenses sold.

     (b)  The commission may exercise the rulemaking authority in subsection (4)(a) when it is necessary and appropriate to regulate the harvest by nonresident big game combination license holders:

     (i)  for the biologically sound management of big game populations of elk, deer, and antelope;

     (ii) to control the impacts of those elk, deer, and antelope populations on uses of private property; and

     (iii) to ensure that elk, deer, and antelope populations are at a sustainable level as provided in 87-1-321 through 87-1-325.

     (5)  (a) Subject to the provisions of 87-2-115, the commission may adopt rules establishing license preference systems to distribute hunting licenses and permits:

     (i)  giving an applicant who has been unsuccessful for a longer period of time priority over an applicant who has been unsuccessful for a shorter period of time; and

     (ii) giving a qualifying landowner a preference in drawings. As used in this subsection (5)(a), "qualifying landowner" means the owner of land that provides some significant habitat benefit for wildlife, as determined by the commission.

     (b)  The commission shall square the number of points purchased by an applicant per species when conducting drawings for licenses and permits.

     (6)  (a) The commission may adopt rules to:

     (i)  limit the number of nonresident mountain lion hunters in designated hunting districts; and

     (ii) determine the conditions under which nonresidents may hunt mountain lion in designated hunting districts.

     (b)  The commission shall consider, but is not limited to consideration of, the following factors:

     (i)  harvest of lions by resident and nonresident hunters;

     (ii) history of quota overruns;

     (iii) composition, including age and sex, of the lion harvest;

     (iv) historical outfitter use;

     (v)  conflicts among hunter groups;

     (vi) availability of public and private lands; and

     (vii) whether restrictions on nonresident hunters are more appropriate than restrictions on all hunters.

     (7)  The commission may not regulate the use or possession of firearms, firearm accessories, or ammunition, including the chemical elements of ammunition used for hunting. This does not prevent:

     (a)  the restriction of certain hunting seasons to the use of specified hunting arms, such as the establishment of special archery seasons;

     (b)  for human safety, the restriction of certain areas to the use of only specified hunting arms, including bows and arrows, traditional handguns, and muzzleloading rifles;

     (c)  the restriction of the use of shotguns for the hunting of deer and elk pursuant to 87-6-401(1)(f);

     (d)  the regulation of migratory game bird hunting pursuant to 87-3-403; or

     (e)  the restriction of the use of rifles for bird hunting pursuant to 87-6-401(1)(g) or (1)(h).

     (8)  Pursuant to 23-1-111, the commission does not oversee department activities related to the administration of state parks, primitive parks, state recreational areas, public camping grounds, state historic sites, state monuments, and other heritage and recreational resources, land, and water administered pursuant to Title 23, chapter 1, and Title 23, chapter 2, parts 1, 4, and 9."


     Section 3.  Section 87-1-304, MCA, is amended to read:

     "87-1-304.  Fixing of seasons and bag and possession limits. (1) Subject to the provisions of [section 1], 87-5-302, and subsection (7) of this section, the commission may:

     (a)  fix seasons, bag limits, possession limits, and season limits;

     (b)  open or close or shorten or lengthen seasons on any species of game, bird, fish, or fur-bearing animal as defined by 87-2-101;

     (c)  declare areas open to the hunting of deer, antelope, elk, moose, sheep, goat, mountain lion, bear, wild buffalo or bison, and wolf by persons holding an archery stamp and the required license, permit, or tag and designate times when only bows and arrows may be used to hunt deer, antelope, elk, moose, sheep, goat, mountain lion, bear, wild buffalo or bison, and wolf in those areas;

     (d)  subject to the provisions of 87-1-301(7), restrict areas and species to hunting with only specified hunting arms, including bow and arrow, for the reasons of safety or of providing diverse hunting opportunities and experiences; and

     (e)  declare areas open to special license holders only and issue special licenses in a limited number when the commission determines, after proper investigation, that a special season is necessary to ensure the maintenance of an adequate supply of game birds, fish, or animals or fur-bearing animals. The commission may declare a special season and issue special licenses when game birds, animals, or fur-bearing animals are causing damage to private property or when a written complaint of damage has been filed with the commission by the owner of that property. In determining to whom special licenses must be issued, the commission may, when more applications are received than the number of animals to be killed, award permits to those chosen under a drawing system. The procedures used for awarding the permits from the drawing system must be determined by the commission.

     (2)  The commission may adopt rules governing the use of livestock and vehicles by archers during special archery seasons.

     (3)  Subject to the provisions of 87-5-302 and subsection (7) of this section, the commission may divide the state into fish and game districts and create fish, game, or fur-bearing animal districts throughout the state. The commission may declare a closed season for hunting, fishing, or trapping in any of those districts and later may open those districts to hunting, fishing, or trapping.

     (4)  The commission may declare a closed season on any species of game, fish, game birds, or fur-bearing animals threatened with undue depletion from any cause. The commission may close any area or district of any stream, public lake, or public water or portions thereof to hunting, trapping, or fishing for limited periods of time when necessary to protect a recently stocked area, district, water, spawning waters, spawn-taking waters, or spawn-taking stations or to prevent the undue depletion of fish, game, fur-bearing animals, game birds, and nongame birds. The commission may open the area or district upon consent of a majority of the property owners affected.

     (5)  The commission may authorize the director to open or close any special season upon 12 hours' notice to the public.

     (6)  The commission may declare certain fishing waters closed to fishing except by persons under 15 years of age. The purpose of this subsection is to provide suitable fishing waters for the exclusive use and enjoyment of juveniles under 15 years of age, at times and in areas the commission in its discretion considers advisable and consistent with its policies relating to fishing.

     (7)  In an area immediately adjacent to a national park, the commission may not:

     (a)  prohibit the hunting or trapping of wolves; or

     (b)  close the area to wolf hunting or trapping unless a wolf harvest quota established by the commission for that area has been met."


     Section 1.  Section 87-2-506, MCA, is amended to read:

     "87-2-506.  Restrictions on hunting licenses. (1) The department may prescribe by rule the number of hunting licenses to be issued. Any license sold may be restricted to a specific administrative region, hunting district, or other designated area and may specify the species, age, and sex to be taken and the time period for which the license is valid.

     (2) (a) When Subject to subsection (2)(b), when the number of valid resident applications for big game licenses or permits of a single class or type exceeds the number of licenses or permits the department desires to issue in an administrative region, hunting district, or other designated area, then the number of big game licenses or permits issued to nonresident license holders or permitholders in the region, district, or area may not exceed 10% of the total issued.

     (b) When the number of licenses or permits available to nonresidents to hunt elk, deer, antelope, mountain lion, or black bear is limited pursuant to subsection (2)(a), 10% of the total licenses or permits issued for those species must be issued to nonresidents.

     (3)  Disabled veterans who meet the qualifying criteria provided in 87-2-817(1) must be provided a total of 50 Class A-3 deer A tags, 50 Class A-4 deer B tags, 50 Class B-7 deer A tags, 50 Class B-8 deer B tags, and 50 special antelope licenses annually, which may be used within the administrative region, hunting district, or other designated area of the disabled veteran's choice, except in a region, district, or area where the number of licenses are less than the number of applicants, in which case qualifying disabled veterans are eligible for no more than 10% of the total licenses for that region, district, or area."


     NEW SECTION.  Section 5.  Codification instruction. [Section 1] is intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 87, chapter 3, part 3, and the provisions of Title 87, chapter 3, part 3, apply to [section 1].


     NEW SECTION.  Section 2.  Effective date. [This act] is effective March 1, 2018.

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