Submitted on Briefs: April 26, 2017
FROM: District Court of the Fifth Judicial District, In and
For the County of Jefferson, Cause No. DC 2016-12 Honorable
Loren Tucker, Presiding Judge
Appellant: Daniel B. McGregor, Self-Represented, Helena,
Appellee: Timothy C. Fox, Montana Attorney General, Madison
L. Mattioli, Assistant Attorney General, Helena, Montana,
Steven C. Haddon, Jefferson County Attorney, Danielle Perry,
Deputy County Attorney, Boulder, Montana.
Daniel B. McGregor (McGregor) appeals from an order entered
in the Montana Fifth Judicial District Court, Jefferson
County, denying his motion to dismiss charges that McGregor
harvested a cow elk without first obtaining permission for
hunting from the private landowner, in violation of §
87-6-415(1), MCA. We affirm.
We restate the issue for review as follows:
Whether violation of the use restrictions for private
property enrolled in Montana's Block Management Program
constitutes a violation of § 87-6-415(1), MCA, which
requires a hunter to obtain permission of the landowner
before hunting on private property.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
On November 9, 2015, Fish and Game Warden Sergeant Dave
Loewen (Sergeant Loewen) received information that McGregor
may have committed hunting violations at the Skytop Ranch
Block Management Area (Skytop BMA). Skytop BMA is enrolled
with the Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Parks (the
Department) in a Block Management Program which allows
hunters to hunt on a landowner's property provided
certain use restrictions negotiated between the landowner and
the Department have been satisfied. In the case of Skytop
BMA, a use restriction was imposed requiring a hunter to sign
in at the sign-in box prior to hunting on Skytop Ranch.
Sergeant Loewen spoke to McGregor at his home and McGregor
confirmed that he had parked his vehicle on property adjacent
to Skytop BMA, entered the Skytop BMA, and harvested a cow
elk from the property on November 8, 2015. McGregor admitted
that he had not signed in at Skytop BMA's sign-in box and
told Sergeant Loewen that "numerous individuals"
had indicated that Skytop Ranch allowed public hunting.
McGregor relayed that an adjacent landowner, Michael Field,
represented to him that Skytop Ranch allowed public hunting
only by foot or horseback and that there was no requirement
to obtain separate permission to hunt. McGregor explained
that he did not know Skytop Ranch was in a Block Management
Program with the Department and was unaware of any
requirement that he sign in at Skytop BMA's sign-in box
prior to entering and hunting on the property. Sergeant
Loewen confirmed by examining the sign-in book at Skytop BMA
that McGregor had not signed in on the date of the violation.
Sergeant Loewen seized McGregor's cow elk and, pursuant
to § 87-1-506(2), MCA, donated it to a local food bank
The Department provides the public with information about
property enrolled in its Block Management Program by
publishing a Hunting Access Guide which contains maps of the
several block management regions. The Department also
published a 2015 map of the Skytop BMA which contained rules
and regulations for accessing the hunting area, an advisement
that the Skytop BMA requires "Registration at Sign In
Box, " and an indication on the map where the box is
located at Skytop BMA.
On November 9, 2015, Sergeant Loewen cited McGregor for
hunting without landowner permission in violation of §
87-6-415(1), MCA. McGregor appeared in Jefferson County
Justice Court on November 16, 2015, and entered a plea of not
guilty. Following a bench trial on February 18, 2016,
McGregor was convicted and subsequently fined $135, plus a
surcharge of $35. McGregor appealed his conviction de novo to
the District Court. He filed a motion to dismiss arguing,
among other things, that the block management statutes and
rules implementing them were unconstitutional. In a bench
trial, the District Court rejected McGregor's arguments
and found him guilty of hunting without landowner permission,
in violation of § 87-6-415(1), MCA. The court imposed
the mandatory surcharge and a $135 fine; however, the court
suspended half of the fine, leaving only $67.50 for McGregor
McGregor appeals the denial of his motion to dismiss.
McGregor represented himself in proceedings before the
Justice Court, the District Court, and is ...