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Nonresident big game licenses sell out; sign of better times

Carie Birkmeier

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HELENA (AP) – Big game licenses are sold out for hunters who live outside Montana.

Factors like the economic downturn and a new law left some nonresident licenses unsold in recent years, the Independent Record reported.

But Fish, Wildlife and Parks administrator Ron Aasheim says licenses sold out this year as deer and elk numbers improve along with the economy.

Officials were surprised when the state ran out of nonresident elk and deer licenses before Montana’s big game season opens Oct. 22, he said. Hunters may be attracted to Montana because of its two-elk limit, Aasheim said.

“It’s certainly good as far as revenue,” he said.

Licenses were awarded through a competitive lottery before voters approved an initiative in 2010 that replaced outfitter-sponsored licenses with more nonresident general licenses.

License prices increased and have continued climbing with inflation.

“It’s taken a full five years to recover from the actions of (the initiative),” said Mac Minard, executive director of the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association. “It increased nonresident licenses substantially, and you saw a market response to that.”

Out-of-state hunters can still get a license if any are turned in early or if they were former Montana residents, Aasheim said.

A few licenses remain in the Come Home to Hunt program.

Copyright 2016 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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