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FWP chief of operations pleads not guilty to hunting without landowner permission

Posted at 1:15 PM, Oct 27, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-27 15:15:00-04

The chief of operations for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks pleaded not guilty last week to failing to obtain a landowner’s permission for hunting in Lewis and Clark County.

Mike Volesky, the FWP chief of operations, is next due in Lewis and Clark County Justice Court Nov. 21 for a pre-trial hearing, according to court records. He remains on administrative leave, an FWP spokesperson said Wednesday.

Volesky was cited on Oct. 10 by FWP’s Chief of Enforcement Ron Howell, a copy of the citation shows, reports the Daily Montanan. Volesky was cited for his first offense of failure to obtain landowner permission for hunting in a violation that happened shortly before 4 p.m. on Sept. 29, according to the ticket.

“Michael Volesky entered private property and crossed private property to access public land for the purpose of hunting,” the citation says.

The alleged crossing of private property happened just north of Stemple Pass Road – which runs between Wilborn and Lincoln – on a dirt road that starts on the Helena National Forest but crosses a man’s property on the way up to an old mine.

Volesky was put on leave after he was cited, but FWP refused to say the citation was among the reasons he is away from the office. Two spokespersons for the department said they could not comment further because Volesky’s leave involves “a personnel matter.”

Volesky started as deputy director with FWP in 2012 after working as a natural resource policy adviser under Gov. Brian Schweitzer. He is paid between $106,225 and $112,070 per year, according to state records.

A person who is found guilty of violating the landowner hunting permission statute can be fined between $135 and $500 for a first offense. Volesky’s citation carries an appearance bond of $285.

Subsequent violations of the statute can lead to larger fines and forfeiture of hunting and fishing licenses in Montana.