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Pittman-Robertson Funding for FWP Enforcement

What PR funding changes mean for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks

 

October 11, 2017 | View PDF



Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is mandated by Montana law to protect, perpetuate, enhance and regulate the wise use of the state’s natural and cultural resources for the benefit of the general public.

The Law Enforcement Division has a specific role in meeting this mandate by maintaining a strong commitment to managing wildlife and its environment and Montana’s hunting, fishing, trapping, and recreation heritage. FWP Wardens accomplish this through education and achieving cooperation of all constituency groups in assuring compliance with Montana state laws, department regulations, and federal, tribal, and international laws.

As highly visible front line employees, FWP Wardens are in an unique position to significantly affect wildlife conservation programs. Approximately 100 FWP Wardens across the state carry out the day-to-day duties and responsibilities in protecting Montana’s fish, wildlife and parks resources.

FWP Wardens actively shape the outdoor values and traditions of Montana’s youth by teaching in hunter education classes, instructing at school outdoor days, and assisting with other FWP and community-sponsored events.

Fact Sheet – Pittman-Robertson funding for FWP Enforcement

These points are intended to help any involved FWP employee factually explain to any member of the public what these PR funding changes mean for the department.

• The 2017 legislature, through House Bill 2, which is the general budget bill, directed that 30% of the FWP enforcement division’s personal services be funded by federal Pittman-Robertson money. Personal services essentially means salaries. This applies to all wardens, investigators, captains and sergeants.

• Historically, about 4% of the enforcement division’s work was PR funding eligible.

• PR funding comes from a federal excise tax on guns and ammunition, and by federal law it may only be used for wildlife restoration and management activities.

• Law enforcement work like routine patrols, poaching investigations, and check stations is specifically identified as ineligible for this funding under federal law and rule.

• By being careful to adhere to federal PR rules, FWP will ensure Montana remains eligible for all federal funds, which currently total approximately $30 million annually.

• This legislative budget directive is in effect in the current biennium, from July 2017 through June 2019.

• This change will redirect a total of 70,000 hours of game warden time, the equivalent of about 30 game warden positions. These hours will shift from enforcement work to eligible wildlife management work. Each warden, investigator, sergeant and captain will need to spend about 14 hours a week – more than a day and a half – on wildlife management related activities within the parameters of PR funding. This is equivalent to 4 months of work for each individual.

• It is certain that FWP will be audited by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which administers PR funds, to ensure no law enforcement work was performed using PR funding.

• Irrespective of concerns for compliance with federal rules, the legislature has directed FWP to implement this change. The 2019 legislature will assess the effects of this direction and evaluate how well FWP followed it.

• Region-specific work plans are in place to ensure we are thinking ahead about the wildlife management that needs to be accomplished. The wildlife and enforcement divisions together with the regions have carefully developed individual warden work plans to incorporate this funding shift. Together the divisions and FWP leadership are identifying, prioritizing, and adding PR-eligible work, while balancing law enforcement work that is affected or not accomplished. This collaboration is well underway.

• The enforcement division has developed an electronic tracking system for use by the regions to accurately account for both law enforcement and PR eligible activity hours worked.

• This new directive doesn’t change FWP’s overarching mission of managing Montana’s fish, wildlife, parks, and recreational resources with expertise, professionalism, and commitment to public service. However, this does change the way we do our work. Some traditional law enforcement activities will necessarily be reduced. This will mean, at times, that wardens, investigators, sergeants, and captains will be accomplishing non-law enforcement work and unable to respond to traditional conservation law enforcement needs. Enforcement may be less visible and available.

• Some examples of PR eligible work enforcement staff will be doing include:

o Landowner outreach to identify access possibilities

o Block Management Area set up

o Wildlife surveys

o Wildlife disease surveillance

o Grizzly bear conflict prevention

o Habitat maintenance

o Game damage investigations

o Hunter education

• Some examples of law enforcement work that may be reduced or delayed:

o Proactive license compliance patrols

o Angler compliance

o Hunter compliance

o Block management enforcement and patrols

o Fish and wildlife violation investigations

o Public education and presentations

o Assisting with fisheries programs and projects

o Customer Service at front offices

• FWP has every intention of successfully meeting the expectations of the legislature, the USFWS, and our constituents—and is planning and implementing this new direction collaboratively.

 

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