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(1) The department shall begin an initial investigation within 30 days after the report of the presence of an unauthorized species in an attempt to confirm that an unauthorized placement has occurred and to estimate the distribution, abundance, age structure, and potential population expansion of the unauthorized species.

(2) The department shall prepare an action plan for responding to an unauthorized species. The action plan will identify the department's immediate and long-term management objectives for the unauthorized species and the management actions that may be implemented to achieve those objectives. The management objectives shall be based on a risk and feasibility assessment, with consideration for the following:

(a) the risk that the unauthorized species could expand into connected or nearby waters;

(b) the current distribution of the unauthorized species and the proximity of those populations to the new placement;

(c) the probability that the unauthorized species will survive and propagate;

(d) the impact that the unauthorized species might have on the existing fishery, especially threatened or endangered species, native species, game species, and important forage species;

(e) the immediate and long-term impacts that the unauthorized species might have on previously existing angling opportunities; and

(f) the immediate and long-term economic impacts that the unauthorized species might have on the department, the public, and the economy.

(3) To protect existing fisheries, local economies, wildlife enjoyment, and angler opportunities, the department shall attempt eradication or suppression of the unauthorized species if determined to be practical and necessary based on a risk and feasibility assessment, as set forth in this rule.

(4) The department shall attempt to identify and cite any individuals responsible for the unauthorized placement and seek penalties and restitution pursuant to the penalties and fines outlined in law.

History: 87-5-704, MCA; IMP, 87-5-701, 87-5-704, 87-5-713, 87-5-715, MCA; NEW, 2014 MAR p. 1592, Eff. 7/25/14.

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