FWP implements new permitting process for training dogs in the open field

A permitting system is now available through Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks to allow people to train hunting dogs in open fields and in proximity to wild nesting birds.
Montana law prohibits the training of hunting dogs within one mile of nesting birds, wildlife management areas or game preserve without a permit. However, until now no clear permitting process was in place.
“Hopefully this permitting process will provide clarity for people looking to train their bird dogs around wild birds,” said Ken McDonald, FWP wildlife division administrator.
In recent years, dog trainers have come to Montana to train their hunting dogs in the open field. These trainers are often working with dozens of dogs and are in the field at a time that can be problematic for gamebirds – when hen birds are raising their broods.
Flushing coveys of young birds can break up family groups, which can impact bird survival rates and push birds out of their preferred habitat.
The permitting process isn’t intended to prohibit trainers from obtaining pen-raised birds for training purposes. That practice has a separate permitting process. This process will help ensure people looking to train dogs in Montana have a clear way to obtain the appropriate permit.
Once submitted, the application will be reviewed by FWP’s regional staff, who will ensure the proposed training area isn’t a place where game birds could reasonably establish a nest. The permit holder will need to get permission from private landowners or other land management agencies, if necessary.
If you are interested in training a hunting dog in the open field, the permit is free and the application can be printed from the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov. Click on Fish and Wildlife, then licenses, then Wildlife Possession. Permits can also be obtained through FWP regional offices.

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