Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Montana Lawmaker Takes Aim At Hunting Violations

Rep. Kelly Flynn.
Courtesy Montana Legislature

A state lawmaker says he wants to introduce legislation to address ongoing hunting violations in Montana. Republican state Representative Kelly Flynn lives near Townsend where a second so-called "crowd-shooting" incident took place last week.

Flynn says he'll introduce a series of bills to bolster funds for Montana’s Block Management program. That helps participating landowners manage hunting activities and provides the public with free hunting access to private land. Flynn also wants to consider increasing certain hunting violation fines.

"Unlawful hunting from a highway or public road and an unlawful use of vehicle for hunting, right now on the fine structure there, those fines start at not less than $50 and then could go up to a thousand dollars, but $50 is a very low threshold."

Broadwater County Under Sheriff Wynn Meehan was the only available officer from his department able to respond to last week's "crowd-shooting" case. He remembers seeing one badly wounded cow elk walking across the field where it had just been shot.

"I got a guy who had a 12-year-old boy and they said; 'Yeah, go ahead and get that cow dragging her guts through the field.' He went out and that little boy finally got that cow."

He says dozens of people used their vehicles to haze hundreds of elk for at least five miles. The animals wound up in a field where they had few escape routes. That's when those who were chasing them opened fire.

It's still unclear how many animals were killed or badly wounded. A similar case near Canyon Ferry Reservoir last month resulted in the deaths of 30 elk. Three hunters were cited then. No one was cited last week.

Meehan describes the Thanksgiving herd-shoot as "chaos". He says he was vastly outnumbered by shooters and doing everything he could to simply keep up. At least four elk were legally taken.

"However, the biggest issues I had - because I was working all by myself - was people using their phone to call their friends and say; 'Yeah, come out and get an elk.' It wasn't just a couple of trucks," said Meehan. "It was a continual, constant flow. From noon until 5 o'clock when it got dark, it was a constant barrage of motor vehicles."

State representative Kelly Flynn wants to explore the idea of restricting the number of hunters who converge on any one particular area to stalk game. He says that may help reduce the number of crowd-shooting incidents.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
(406) 243-4065
Become a sustaining member for as low as $5/month
Make an annual or one-time donation to support MTPR
Pay an existing pledge or update your payment information
Related Content