If I Find It, Can I Keep It In Montana?

That's an interesting question when we're talking about everything from dinosaur fossils, arrow heads, gold, mushrooms and more that can and has been found under Montana's big sky.

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Montana Fossil

The Bureau Of Land Management Has The Answers

It all depends on what you found.

Wood And Forest Products:

You can get firewood and Christmas Tree permits from the state and you can harvest them in designated areas.

A small amount of: Plants, plant parts, seeds, flowers, berries, mushrooms, morels, truffles, and other fungi, rocks, mineral specimens, common invertebrate fossils, and semiprecious gemstones may be collected for personal consumption.  Keep in mind, you should never do this in a state or national park. That's what pictures are for.

If it's a species that's federally listed as threatened or endangered or candidates for listing as threatened or endangered may not be collected without a permit.

Minerals and Fossils:

This is a big deal in Montana, so I didn't want to leave this out.  There are some that you can absolutely keep.


Prospecting is ok.  Harvesting minerals on a prospecting location that isn't yours is NOT ok.

Rock collecting:

Personal use yes.

You can't use dredges or explosives to get your rocks or minerals and you CAN NOT HARVEST for commercial use.

Minerals Montana

From the BLM, "Collecting prehistoric tools and chips or flaking debris made of precious or semiprecious stones is not allowed."


What you can keep:

Reasonable amounts of invertebrate fossils for personal use only.  You can not trade or sell them.

What you CAN NOT keep:

Vertebrate fossils as well as uncommon invertebrate or plant fossils. They're considered public property.

Remember, if you find a plant, animal or any other geologic feature in a cave it may not be removed, altered or damaged.  They're federally protected.

READ MORE: Montana has a state fossil, why not a state dog?

What About Arrow Heads?

From the BLM, "Protected materials include arrowheads and other stone tools, grinding stones, beads, baskets, pottery, old bottles, horseshoes, metal tools, graves, and trash scatters. Modern money may be collected, but not historic coins and artifacts."

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