(1) By law, the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks is required to respond to all big game damage complaints. General hunting seasons are the primary tool to deal with animals causing or having the potential to cause game damage. Landowners who allow public hunting and do not impose restrictions that significantly reduce public hunting qualify for game damage assistance.
(2) The department investigates damage complaints and arranges to study the situation as soon as possible, and within 48 hours of the filing of the complaint. If the department person who received the complaint is unable to respond within 48 hours, he will immediately refer the complaint to the nearest department employee who can respond within a 48-hour period. Exceptions may be made if complainant is agreeable to a longer waiting period.
(3) The department investigates all damage complaints under this policy with the exception of (4) . A phone call or on-site visit constitutes an immediate response under this provision.
(4) Damage caused by nongame, furbearing, or federally listed threatened and endangered species is not covered by this policy, but is addressed on a case-by-case basis.
(5) In response to damage complaints qualifying for assistance under 87-1-225 , MCA, and ARM 12.9.803, a regional supervisor may address the problem in the following ways:
(a) by herding as a temporary measure;
(b) by employing a variety of animal dispersal methods, such as airplanes, snowmobiles, cracker shells, and scareguns;
(c) by using repellents as temporary solutions;
(d) by using fencing options if the problem is chronic and involves haystacks and other stored crops;
(e) by authorizing kill permits;
(f) the department, through the regional supervisor or designated staff, has the discretion to issue supplemental game damage licenses for antlerless animals to hunters as an alternative to a kill permit being issued to a landowner. Supplemental game damage licenses administrative procedures are outlined in ARM 12.9.805;
(g) damage hunts may be used to address site-specific damage problems in accordance with ARM 12.9.804;
(h) netting or mechanical devices may be used to reduce tree damage; and
(i) archery, shotgun, muzzle loader weapons, or other weapons may be used as an alternative hunting method when rifle hunting poses a threat to the safety and welfare of persons or property.
(6) Assistance may be denied or discontinued to a landowner who:
(a) creates or further contributes to game damage problems by not providing sufficient public hunting to aid in reduction of game populations;
(b) imposes other restrictions which prevent adequate harvests; or
(c) refuses reasonable suggestions, actions or remedies offered by the department. The decision to deny or terminate assistance will be made by the regional supervisor. Denial or discontinuance of assistance will be documented with the reasons, history and other pertinent information used to make that decision. A copy of the written decision will be provided to the landowner. The written decision will explain appeal rights.
(7) A landowner may appeal the denial or discontinuance of assistance to the director of the department. The appeal must be in writing and must contain specific reasons why the regional supervisor's decision is felt to be erroneous. The appeal must be filed within ten days following receipt of a denial or discontinuance determination from the regional supervisor.
(a) The director of the department will review the information used by the regional supervisor in making the initial determination and the reasons cited by the landowner for appealing the decision. At the director's discretion, the commission may be asked to review the appeal and make recommendations for the decision. Following the review, a final decision will be rendered by the director.