Back from the Brink: How Hunters Sustain Montana's Wildlife

Ryan D. Bergstrom, Katherine J. Hansen, Shannon V. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Beginning with the gold rush era of the 1860s and culminating with the devastating droughts of the 1910s and 1930s, Montana's wildlife, and that of the entire nation, was in a perilous state and in need of a boost. This boost came from the introduction of the Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration Act, or as it is commonly known, the Pittman–Robertson Act, in 1937. The program is based on a self-imposed and hunter-supported manufacturers excise tax. These funds, in conjunction with funds generated through Montana hunting permits, have brought Montana's wildlife back from the brink of destruction. The objective of this study was to determine if a relationship between hunter-supported expenditures by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks existed with hunter participation numbers and harvest numbers. It was hypothesized that there existed a positive relationship between the amount of hunter-related expenditures and the amount of hunter participation and harvest rates.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)103-110
Number of pages8
JournalPapers in Applied Geography
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
319 and 341 include both the Fleecer Mountain Wildlife Management Area (WMA) and the Mount Haggin WMA, and are as such discussed simultaneously. The Fleecer Mountain WMA was acquired by MFWP in 1994 from the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation, and was subsequently added to by the estate of Daryl Lassila and T. Helehan in 1998. The Mount Haggin WMA was established in 1976 when the Montana Department of Fish and Game acquired a 55000 acres (85 square mile) parcel from the Nature Conservancy. Funding for the acquisition came from three sources: the Land and Water Conservation Fund ($1.5 million), general license and permit fees ($450000), and the remainder a donation by the original landowners, Mount Haggin Livestock, Inc. (Newell and Ellis 1982). According to MFWP (2007a), of all assets acquired by the agency, the Mount Haggin WMA was the largest within the region during the study period. The original objective for the acquisition was to provide an environment where multiple recreational opportunities could take place, including hunting and fishing. Because the area provides year-round critical habitat, including calving and fawning habitat for a number of big game species, considerable research has been conducted with the support of MFWP. For example, Frisina (1986) found that upward trends in elk numbers between 1973 and 1981 were largely the result of improved habitat and migratory corridors, as well as increased regulations on female elk harvests.

Funding Information:
According to the 2006 Annual Report (MFWP 2006), although general license and permit fees and Pittman–Robertson funds provide the majority (63 percent) of available funding for MFWP, other sources of funding do exist, including portions of lodging, coal severance tax, fuel taxes, light vehicle registration fees, and nonresident state park fees. Federal funding also is provided through the Land and Water Conservation Fund and the State Wildlife Grant Program. Thus, MFWP created unique account numbers to identify the funding source for each project. For example, general license and permit fees came from account number 02409, and Pittman–Robertson funding came from account number 03703. Each project where Pitt-man–Robertson and general license and permit expenditures occurred that were directly related to wildlife operations based on project title was entered into a Microsoft Excel worksheet based on regional, divisional, and project identifiers, as well as its funding source. Yearly data were then aggregated for each project to provide total Pittman–Robertson and general license and permit expenditures for the study period.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Published by Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.


  • Montana
  • Pittman–Robertson Act
  • conservation
  • hunting
  • recreation


Dive into the research topics of 'Back from the Brink: How Hunters Sustain Montana's Wildlife'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this