What are Laws and Regulations?
Look at Montana’s book of hunting regulations. Why do we have so many rules? Are they really necessary? Who makes them? Who enforces them?
Who Makes Laws and Regulations?
Hunting laws are created with the leadership of hunters working with elected officials, who are responsible for making new laws. They are intended to protect and manage wildlife populations as well as to protect hunters. Before the establishment of these laws, many species were driven to near extinction. In response, hunters pushed for laws to regulate hunting and protect species in hopes they could recover their numbers and be enjoyed by future generations of hunters and nonhunters.
Laws come from legislators or citizen ballot initiatives. It takes time and effort to develop laws, so they don’t change very often. Because of this, most states and provinces grant state wildlife agencies such as FWP authority to make regulations. Regulations are based on public input and on information provided by scientists and managers. They are easier to change than laws and are better suited to the way that wildlife is managed everyday.
Who Enforces the Law?
You may have already met a game warden. The job of the warden is to make sure hunters follow the laws and regulations. A warden may ask to see your license or ask questions about when and where you have hunted. He or she may also ask to inspect any animal you have killed. Cooperate—it’s the right thing to do, and it’s the law!
Know the Law and Obey It!
One of the qualities of a responsible hunter is that he or she knows and understands the laws that apply to his or her hunting situation. But it is not enough to know the law, you must also obey it!
Not knowing hunting laws is not an excuse for violating them. If you hunt, you must know the laws and respect them. Ignorance is not a defense!
Keep these guidelines in mind:
- Read and understand Montana’s hunting regulations every year.
- Always carry a copy of the hunting regulations in the field.
- Don’t rely on others to tell you what is legal and right.
- Make sure you have the correct licenses, permits, stamps, and tags before you go hunting.
- The fines for some violations are in the thousands of dollars. Plus, you may lose your hunting privileges for years or life.
Wasn’t the Bison Almost Wiped Out by Hunters?
Market hunting (killing animals for the purpose of selling their hide, meat, or parts) nearly exterminated the North American bison in the 1800s. Since there were few laws and no enforcement to protect wildlife, hunters killed as many animals as they could and did whatever they wanted with the carcasses.
At the turn of the century, concerned hunters, such as former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, banded together to form the Boone and Crockett Club. The Club worked with other organizations and citizens to pass legislation to protect wildlife for future generations. Thanks to the efforts of these early conservationists, once-rare species like white-tailed deer, elk, pronghorn, wood ducks and wild turkeys are now abundant enough for us to hunt and enjoy once again.