A group of bison are bedded down in silty buffalo wallows with the white snow-capped Mission Mountains in the background.  Photo by USFWS volunteer Dave Fitzpatrick.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issues permits under various wildlife law and treaties at a number of offices throughout the country. Permits enable the public to engage in legitimate wildlife-related activities that would otherwise be prohibited by law. Service permit programs ensure that such activities are carried out in a manner that safeguards wildlife. Additionally, some permits promote conservation efforts by authorizing scientific research, generating data, or allowing wildlife management and rehabilitation activates to go forward.


    The National Bison Range (NBR) is open to the public year-round. If you are visiting the Refuge on your own or as a member of a recreational group, there is a pass fee but no permit is required. If, however, you intend to conduct a commercial activity; preform scientific research; collect resources, or other generally prohibited activities (e.g. access to closed areas, overnight use), a Special Use Permit is required.

    The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recognize the crucial link between public awareness and effective management of the National Wildlife Refuge System (NWRS). There are three different Special Use Permit Application forms (Commercial, Research and General) to enable the public to engage in special activities on a national wildlife refuge. Prospective permit holders must fill out the pertinent application, sign and return it to the refuge for processing via mail, fax or email. Approved applications will be issued a permit signed by a Refuge official.

    Please allow Refuge staff at least ten (10) business days after confirmation of receipt to process the Special Use Permit application. Any request within a shorter time frame may not be accommodated and depending on the request, more time may be required.

    Permitted activities differ by Refuge, as each must assess appropriate and compatible uses. Please contact refuge staff to confirm whether your proposed activity is appropriate, compatible and permitted at the NBR.

    All inquiries and applications may be directed to:
    National Bison Range
    58355 Bison Range Road
    Moiese, MT 59824
    406/644-2211 extension 0
    406/644-2661 fax

  • Commercial Permits

    Jack Hanna on film shoot at Bison Range.  Photo by Pat Jamieson, USFWS

    A Commercial Permit is required for all commercial activities on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Lands. This includes activities, which, if approved, participants may be required to pay a fee for services rendered or goods delivered. News gathering organizations are exempt from fee, insurance, and bonding requirements, but may require a Permit to ensure compatibility with ongoing Refuge activities.

    Types of activities that require a commercial permit may include:

    1) Commercial videography includes filming of documentaries, travelogues and feature stories. All videography requests are reviewed on a case by case basis. The National Bison Range conducted a compatibility review which may allow producers of natural history films to obtain footage on the Bison Range complex of wildlife in their native habitat as well as scenic footage on refuge lands. To receive a permit, subjects and themes must support and enhance the mission of the US Fish and Wildlife Service to conserve fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats.

    2) All commercial still photography that uses models or props which are not part of the site’s natural or cultural resources.

    3) All commercial activities involving guiding hunters, anglers or other outdoor users.

    4) Agriculture (haying, grazing, crop planting, logging, and other agricultural products).

    Commercial Activities Special Use Application (FWS Form 3-1383-C)

  • Research Project Permits

    Researchers with tranquilized pronghorn antelope.  Photo by NBR/USFWS

    A Research Special Use Permit is required for all scientific studies or research activities occurring on National Wildlife Refuges where the US Fish and Wildlife Service is not an active participant in the activity. We encourage research and studies that assist in answering management questions to enhance wildlife and their habitats on the National Bison Range. Research is usually conducted by universities, Federal, State, and local agencies, non-governmental agencies, and qualified members of the general public.

    Priority will be given to studies applicable to management on or nearby the Refuge. Proposals must demonstrate that the study will not have an adverse effect on wildlife or habitat. Feel free to contact the Biology Staff to discuss whether your project helps fill an information gap, and how it can be conducted to minimize impacts. Details of current and past research projects can be found under the Science section of this website.

    Research and Monitoring Special Use Application (FWS Form 3-1383-R)

  • General Permits

    Group of Boy Scouts and leader, as well as student volunteers, in front of day’s collection of antlers (elk and deer).  Photo by USFWS volunteer Dave Fitzpatrick, 2015.

    Permit requests which do not fit under any of the above categories may be allowed on the National Bison Range Complex if they are compatible with the purposes of the Refuge. These include:

    1) Miscellaneous events.

    2) Educational activities requiring uses not consistent with public access.

    3) Collection of natural resources (e.g. sage, balsamroot, antlers). Tribal members may apply for a permit to collect silver (white) sagebrush (Artemisia ludoviciana) at the National Bison Range. Silver sagebrush is a perennial plant that dies back each year, unlike the more familiar and woody big basin sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata). We issue collection permits to allow us to document Native American use (so historic collection may continue), to provide information for yearly reports, and to monitor so collection does not impact resources. Collected plants must be for non-commercial personal or community use.