A voter-approved price increase for some Montana nonresident hunting licenses likely resulted in about 1,200 big game combination licenses remaining for sale after the March 15 application deadline.
About 15,800 nonresidents applied for a total 17,000 big game or elk combination licenses for the upcoming season. That means that every hunter who applied for either the $912 nonresident big game combination license, or the $812 elk combo license, will receive one.
The remaining 1,200 nonresident big game combination licenses will be sold online only on a first-come first-served basis beginning April 18. The big game combo includes licenses to hunt elk, deer and upland game birds, and a season fishing license. The elk combo includes all of the same licenses except for deer.
"We're confident that we'll sell out again this year," said Hank Worsech, the license bureau chief for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. "People are already sending in applications trying to get a jump on things, but in the interest of fairness we'll return them and ask those folks to reapply because they essentially missed the original deadline."
Worsech stressed that the surplus nonresident big game and elk combination licenses will be sold only online and none will be accepted until April 18.
Meanwhile, more than 7,550 nonresidents applied for 4,600 combination deer licenses, which also saw a bump in price to $542 for the upcoming season. Because only 4,600 deer combo licenses are available by Montana law, those licenses will be awarded via a lottery-like drawing set for April 11.
Last November, voters approved an initiative that moved 7,800 outfitter-sponsored big game and deer combination licenses to the general nonresident license category and increased the associated license fees. The fee increases include:
Nonresident hunters who wish to apply for one of the remaining big game combo or elk licenses must apply via the FWP website at fwp.mt.gov  beginning April 18.
The revenue generated by the increased license fees is earmarked for wildlife habitat conservation and public hunting access programs. The fee increases only apply to nonresident combination licenses. Other nonresident licenses are not affected.