(1) Bait leeches, Nephelopsis obscura , also called ribbon leeches or mud leeches, may be imported into the state with approval from the department. 

(2) Out-of-state bait dealers wanting to ship bait leeches into Montana for use as fish bait, including sales to commercial bait dealers in Montana, shall submit a completed application for a permit to the department on forms provided for this purpose.

(a) the application must include:

(i) information about the source of bait leeches;  

(ii) documentation that leeches are not collected from areas known to contain zebra mussels; and

(iii) certification   of compliance with requirements in ARM 12.7.541, for importation of bait leeches into Montana;

(b) the department may permit any out-of-state bait dealer that is determined to be in compliance with the requirements of this rule.   Additional information may be requested to evaluate the application if necessary.

(3) The department shall keep a list of permitted out-of-state bait dealers. The list of permitted bait leech dealers   shall be provided to persons wishing to import bait leeches.

(4) An out-of-state bait dealer shall remain on the permitted list and may sell leeches for importation into Montana unless the dealer is removed from the approved list by the department, or unless the dealer requests to have his or her name removed from the list.

(a) A dealer may be removed from the permitted list at any time it is determined that any of the following has occurred:

(i) the dealer has not complied with the requirements of ARM 12.7.540, 12.7.541, and 12.7.542;

(ii) zebra mussels are discovered in the watershed from which the leeches were collected; or

(iii) it is determined that importation of leeches from this source poses a threat to existing fisheries, native wildlife and plants, or to agricultural production.

(5) The department may deny any request for a permit to ship bait leeches into Montana if the department determines that the source of bait leeches may pose a threat of harm to existing fisheries, native wildlife, plants, or to agricultural production.

History: 87-5-704, MCA; IMP, 87-5-711, MCA; NEW, 2000 MAR p. 827, Eff. 3/31/00.