Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks may have to reduce the amount of time wardens spend on enforcement if the current budget is passed.

"There was a proposal that the funding for FWP wardens be changed... the vast  majority 93 percent was hunting and fishing license dollars and seven percent was federal money, but it was suggested that shift to 50-50, that's dropped down to about 30 percent of federal dollars, but still a pretty significant increase" said FWP Communications Officer Ron Aasheim.

The federal money comes with some strings and restrictions attached, including a restriction on what those dollars can be spent on.

"They are called Pittman-Robertson dollars, they are an excise tax on hunting equipment, ammunition, riffles, that sort of thing, and it's very specific," Aasheim said. "Those dollars, which have to be matched, it's a 3-1 match: three federal dollars for one dollar, but with those dollars, activities related strictly to enforcement are not eligible."

Aasheim says a shift to federal dollars may require a shift in the philosophy of how  FWP Wardens operate, with wardens spending more time on things like working on public access, urban wildlife management, and biological surveys. If the rules are violated, it could jeopardize Montana’s federal funding which is about $28 million per year.

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