Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced Sunday that one illegal outfitter and 10 non-resident hunters were sentenced on criminal charges for a rash of poaching activity. James "Bert" Twitchell of Wolf Point hosted the 10 hunters—all from North Carolina or Alabama—using an FWP-regulated landowner certification that allows private landowners to host non-residents on their land. But FWP agents in northeastern Montana observed Twitchell's clients trespassing on neighboring private land, as well as federal land owned by the Bureau of Land Management.
Twitchell was fined $170 by McCone County on two misdemeanor counts of non-licensed outfitting activity—a slap on the wrist compared to what FWP has leveled against many illegal outfitters in the state. The hunters he sponsored didn't get off so lucky. All lost hunting, trapping and fishing privileges for at least a year, and must pay thousands of dollars in fines and restitution. The numerous charges included illegally taking white-tail and mule deer, antelope and game birds, hunting without a license and loaning a license to another hunter.
Five non-resident hunters were convicted in late January in a separate case of illegal commercial outfitting. In that case, a Kentucky man was busted for operating an illegal outfitting operation on FWP Block Management Land in northeastern Montana from 2005 to 2007.