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Wildlife feeding violations reported in Polson, Ronan

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News from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and CSKT

POLSON — Fish, Wildlife and Parks Game Warden Ron Howell would like to remind folks that the supplemental feeding of game animals is illegal under Montana code (MCA 87-6-216) on private and state land on the Flathead Reservation, as well as off the reservation.

The law specifically prohibits the feeding of ungulates—deer, elk, moose, and antelope — and mountain lions and bears. The recreational feeding of birds (song birds, turkeys, pheasants, etc.) can also be unlawful if it attracts ungulates or bears. 

Supplemental food includes grain, processed feed, hay, and other foods.

Howell noted that residents sometimes claim to be feeding turkeys, but this feeding can also attract other species. For example, if deer are drawn to feeding sites, they can attract mountain lions and pose a safety threat to neighbors. Howell added that several examples of unlawful feeding of wildlife have been turned in recently in the Polson area. 

“The most recent incident in the Polson area was probably the worse example I have seen in my nine years,” Howell said. “Hay and salt blocks were actually delivered to the residence just for the deer. The landowner does not own livestock. Nearly 30 turkeys and countless deer were feeding on the pile when I arrived.”  

Another incident has been recently reported to Howell in the Ronan area.

“Lots of turkeys are being fed which is attracting deer, and concerned neighbors are reporting seeing mountain lions in the area,” Howell said. “I try to educate folks on the law, and give them a chance to clean up the attractants and stop the feeding by issuing a written warning first. If the feeding does not stop then I will issue a citation.”

Officials with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes note the Tribes have collaborated on information for the public on living with balance with mountain lions and grizzly bears and provided countless hours of education to farmers and ranchers, schools and the community about ways to reduce conflict with wildlife. Feeding wildlife is counter to all tribal efforts to reduce wildlife losses and minimize potential human wildlife conflicts.

A person convicted of violating the law can be fined up to $1,000 or be imprisoned in the county detention center for not more than six months, or both. In addition, the person if convicted may lose any current hunting, fishing, or trapping licenses issued by this state and the privilege to hunt, fish, or trap in this state or to use state lands for recreational purposes for a period of time set by the court.

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