Sportsmen worry nonresident hunting license sales misrepresented

Resident hunters are seeing more out-of-state hunters afield as license sales have climbed, despite a supposed cap initiated in 1975.

Brett French

Forty-eight years ago, out of concern regarding the growing number of out-of-state hunters, the Montana Legislature approved a cap on the number of nonresident big game combination licenses.

The limit was set at 17,000 licenses a year.

In 2021, the Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks sold more than 66,600 nonresident deer and elk licenses, according to information the Butte Skyline Sportsmen’s Association received through a public records’ request.

Martin Patritz, a member of the Skyline Sportsmen, requested the information as Montana hunters have complained about crowding on public lands, as well as private lands opened through the state’s Block Management Program.

After sharing the license numbers with fellow club members and the public, he said the response has been one of “shell shock at how many nonresident licenses are issued in the state.”

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