Film Company Cited for Breaking Federal Wilderness Laws

South Fork Flathead bull trout make up one of the strongest and most valuable populations across their range

By Beacon Staff
Bull Trout. Courtesy Photo

The owners of a Missoula-based film company were issued 38 state and 11 federal citations for violating bull trout regulations and filming illegally in the Bob Marshall Wilderness area.

According to a plea agreement announced by officials with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Zack and Travis Boughton, owners of Montana Wild, along with their associate Anthony Von Ruden, were fined $5,950.

The film firm produced fishing films in and around the Bob Marshall Wilderness that showed the company’s employees illegally fishing for bull trout, which is a federally protected species.

The defendants were issued state citations for intentionally fishing for bull trout in closed waters, failing to immediately release the protected trout and failing to report a bull trout on an FWP Bull Trout Catch Card.

The federal citations were for unlawful commercial filming on U.S. Forest Service lands without valid permits. Commercial filming is prohibited in designated wilderness areas.

“The over-handling of bull trout that took place by these individuals on this trip will no doubt have negative impacts on the bull trout fishery,” FWP Region One Fisheries Manager Mark Deleray said.

Deleray added that South Fork Flathead bull trout make up one of the strongest and most valuable populations across their range.

According to FWP Warden Captain Lee Anderson: “While the regulation preventing someone from intentionally fishing for bull trout can be difficult to prove, it is extremely easy for the angler to follow. Every angler out there knows if they are intentionally fishing for bull trout.”

Anderson called the investigation a great example of interagency cooperation.

The Boughtons issued a statement on the Montana Wild website.

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