Patrick "Pat" Tabor's FWP Citations & USFS Complaint Documents

Documents Below


Back in 2016, I was called with some concerns about an outfitter from the Swan, Patrick Tabor.

After some basic calls and queries, I submitted public information requests with Montana FWP, DNRC, Board of Outfitters and a Freedom of Information Act request with the USFS. The two linked pdf's below contain the FWP citations and the FS complaints.

Montana FWP Citations for Patrick Tabor pdf

USFS FOIA Request pdf

  • There were 5 FWP Game Warden citations against Patrick Tabor, license number 11300, for violations of MCA 37-47-344, 37-47-201 and ARM 24.171.2301 (1b) involving subcontracting business, utilizing State DNRC lands/waters without a commercial license (4 different dates) and failure to keep true and accurate reports. Lake County dismissed these citations without going to trial. Per a conversation with Warden Bowen, there were more Tabor violations than they issued citations for.
  • Lake County Attorney, Molly Erin Owen (previously Lynch), asked the judge for the dismissal without prejudice of the Patrick M. Tabor citations, similar to the Lake County law enforcement scandal that the Missoula Independent investigated (Serve and Deflect article linked below). The judge approved the request, Justice of the Peace Randall Owens, on July 11, 2016. Tabor was due to have a jury trial on Dec. 15, 2016.
  • Placing a FOIA for any complaints with the US Forest Service, for Patrick Tabor and his Swan Mountain Outfitters, I received complaints and documentation for the following: Allegedly, for years, Mr. Tabor had been dumping manure from his corrals onto FS land, which was not only producing many noxious weeds (including Canada Thistle and St. Johnswort), but included a large amount of baling twine, over 2 large garbage bags worth, near a riparian area. Swan Mountain Outfitters reportedly had a large cache stored in the wilderness up Lion Creek; access to the trail is not user friendly to the public as it is almost exclusively used by SMO guides and clients with a negative attitude to the public; parking and stock containment minimal at best as students, guides, clients and employees of SMO dominating utilization; horse manure in the stream running into Pony Lake, the trail up to Lake heavily used with SMO wranglers stating a crew, in association with SMO "improved" the trail, widening it with stumps and trees sawed out of the way, rocks pried from the tred and narrow spots pulaskied back into the hill to make the tred wider at a site designated as proposed wilderness.

I feel that the Tabor citations (additional violations) and FS complaints show a pattern of viewing and utilizing our public lands/resources as private, rather than respecting them as public. Mr. Tabor's alledged failure to keep true and accurate records is more disconcerting in view of MOGA's previous proposal to amend ARM (Administrative Rules of Montana) to remove a variety of reporting data, one of which was proposed by Tabor involving operations plans and outfitter records.

Patrick M. Tabor is the owner and founder of Swan Mountain Outfitters. He was previously President elect of Montana Outfitters & Guides Association. Tabor was also, previously a board member of the Montana Board of Outfitters for Big Game Outfitting.


Receiving a call to verify if there were actually any rumored citations against Board of Outfitters & Montana Outfitters & Guides president elect, Patrick Tabor, I found more than the citations, I the continuing of the same concerns in Lake County justice system, that were occurring several years ago that caused a scandal.

Matthew Frank, an independent journalist, writing for the Missoula Independent, at the time, wrote a large investigative article dealing with Lake County, "a culture of corruption pervading law enforcement agencies in Lake County"- To Serve and Deflect: State Investigator describes resistence, alleges tampering among Lake County law officials (pdf pages 16-19). After the Missoula Independent was bought out by Lee Enterprises, it was shut down and the archived articles were lost.

Another article, from the Flathead Beacon, on the ongoing investigations - State Investigator Describes Resistance, Alleges Tampering Among Lake County Law Officials

There are a number of reasons for pursuing this, most stem from our wardens and other LE being able to do
their job. Without access to these kinds of reports, it would seriously hamstring them. Currently, Montana law requires them to submit client logs. On March 1,2, 2016, the Board of Outfitters met in Helena, Tabor is appointed to this board. MOGA reported on the meeting, of which Tabor is President elect. At the bottom of the page, concerning future legislation:

“Remove the requirement to submit client logs – This will require statutory change. Outfitters will be required
to retain and provide logs if audited, you would just not have to submit them to the Board. We see this as a very
significant cost savings as all the logs being submitted now must be scanned and filed. The counter is that
these logs MAY help some outfitters faced with allocative decisions on some waterways. That is not
likely simply because of the manner in which the data is collected retained and the cost of mining that data to
verify past use. We are committed to getting this law amended.”

As a retired FWP game warden explained it, currently, those records are public information, which they need to
investigate. They can gain access to public records without tipping off who they are investigating, sometimes investigations take years. But if outfitters are not required to submit records, the records are private property; a warden or other LE would have to subpoena them, which would give a heads up to the outfitter they were being investigated.

Additionally, with the pattern of certain county attorneys dismissing cases, it makes outfitter laws pretty toothless.
I spoke with the DNRC office in that area, they said they did not renew Tabors commercial use license because of the issues. Tabors subcontractor did not have a commercial use license with DNRC for each of the events. The cost for commercial licenses is based on a set fee or 5% of gross earnings if larger, based on records, but if they don't have to report, how are you going to know if the money collected by DNRC for school trust, is even accurate?

I called FS District Rangers office in that area to see if they had any violations by Tabor. I was told that there had been a number of complaints against him. When I asked if they were from landowners, other outfitters, the public or other agencies, I was told I would have to put a FOIA in for that information, which I did.

I put a Public Information request in to FWP for 6 years of statistics on how many citations have been issued, how many dismissed, how many convicted, per year, per region to see if there is a pattern in certain areas of dismissals. Lake County was one of the larger dismissal counties. These are some of the concerns I have with our sportsmen's dollars, FWP enforcement being able to do their job properly, protecting the resource, and the accountability/transparency aspect.

Research by Kathryn QannaYahu

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