FWP would like to remind folks that the supplemental feeding of game animals is illegal under Montana code (MCA 87-6-216). Recently, FWP has been investigating incidents of residents feeding deer in the Libby and Yaak area.
The law specifically prohibits the feeding of ungulates—(deer, elk, moose, and antelope), mountain lions and bears. The recreational feeding of birds (song birds, turkeys, pheasants, etc) can also be unlawful if it attracts ungulates or bears, and in some cities like Libby there are also ordinances against feeding turkeys. Supplemental food includes grain, processed feed, hay, and other foods.
Feeding turkeys 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.
FWP has also received reports of aggressive deer near a school bus stop in Libby. These deer may have been habituated with supplemental feed, and could be a threat to the safety of children in the area. FWP and Libby law enforcement officials may have to act to remove the deer in the interest of public safety. Killing habituated wildlife is a last resort when a public safety issue is involved. Feeding deer not only poses a safety threat it also congregates wildlife and increases the risk of disease transmission putting all deer in the area at risk.
In the Yaak, supplemental feeding of deer has attracted a young black bear cub that hadn’t been able to den for the winter. FWP has captured the cub and will transport it to the state rehabilitation center in Helena.
–Here is the text to MCA 87-6-216:
87-6-216. Unlawful supplemental feeding. (1) A person may not provide supplemental feed attractants to game animals by:
(a) purposely or knowingly attracting any cloven-hoofed ungulates, bears, or mountain lions with supplemental feed attractants;
(b) after having received a previous warning, negligently failing to properly store supplemental feed attractants and allowing any cloven-hoofed ungulates, bears, or mountain lions access to the supplemental feed attractants; or
(c) purposely or knowingly providing supplemental feed attractants in a manner that results in an artificial concentration of game animals that may potentially contribute to the transmission of disease or that constitutes a threat to public safety.
(2) A person is not subject to civil or criminal liability under this section if the person is engaged in:
(a) the normal feeding of livestock;
(b) a normal agricultural practice;
(c) cultivation of a lawn or garden;
(d) the commercial processing of garbage; or
(e) recreational feeding of birds unless, after having received a previous warning by the department, the person continues to feed birds in a manner that attracts cloven-hoofed ungulates or bears and that may contribute to the transmission of disease or constitute a threat to public safety.
(3) This section does not apply to supplemental feeding activities conducted by the department for disease control purposes.
(4) A person convicted of a violation of this section shall be fined not less than $50 or more than $1,000 or be imprisoned in the county detention center for not more than 6 months, or both. In addition, the person, upon conviction or forfeiture of bond or bail, may be subject to forfeiture of any current hunting, fishing, or trapping license issued by this state and the privilege to hunt, fish, or trap in this state or to use state lands, as defined in 77-1-101, for recreational purposes for a period of time set by the court.