Big Sky Roundup

Ryan Busse confirms 1998 hunting ticket, said honest mistake, fixed immediately

By: - November 7, 2023 5:10 pm
Ryan Busse addresses a crowd at a rally urging Gov. Greg Gianforte to accept $10 million in PEBT funding his administration has this year chosen to decline on Monday, July 10, 2023.

Ryan Busse confirmed he received a hunting ticket in 1998 but said he corrected the error immediately. He's shown here at a July 2023 rally. (Photo by Blair Miller, Daily Montanan)

Gubernatorial candidate Ryan Busse confirmed Tuesday he received a hunting ticket in 1998, but the Democrat also took a shot at Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte’s record.

Lee Enterprises reported this week a records request showed Busse was cited 25 years ago for taking game birds without a license, and he paid a $120 fine.

Tuesday, Busse said he thought at the time he had purchased the correct license, and he happened to be hunting with a game warden.

Busse is former head of the Backcountry Hunters and Anglers North American board.

At a check station, however, Busse said he learned he hadn’t bought a combo license. He said he fixed the mistake and immediately purchased the right license.

“I’m glad there’s game checks and law enforcement to keep things accountable,” Busse said.

Gianforte, who has not yet filed for re-election, also landed in trouble with Fish, Wildlife and Parks and wildlife activists over hunting.

In February 2021, FWP issued Gianforte a warning after he trapped and killed a wolf without having taken a state-mandated trapping class. At the time, his office said he immediately signed up for the required course.

One year later, the governor received criticism for legally killing a mountain lion in late 2021 near Yellowstone National Park on the same property, owned by a Sinclair Broadcast Group media mogul.

Both animals were collared. Conservationists said the lion kill diminished people’s ability to understand the natural world in the Yellowstone area.

Busse said his own unintentional mistake pales in comparison to the governor’s approach to “whatever that egregious stuff is he calls hunting.”

“I can tell you I have never and will never pay some guide on a billionaire’s ranch to track a collared wolf and hold it until I can fly in and shoot it,” Busse said.

The Governor’s Office did not respond to an email for comment late Tuesday afternoon.

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Keila Szpaller
Keila Szpaller

Keila Szpaller is deputy editor of the Daily Montanan and covers education. Before joining States Newsroom Montana, she served as city editor of the Missoulian, the largest news outlet in western Montana.