HELENA, Mont. (AP) — The producer of the cable television show "Wardens" has been fined $1,500 and ordered to forfeit footage shot on U.S. Forest Service lands in Montana last summer without a permit.
Mitch Petrie pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor on Tuesday, the Independent Record (http://bit.ly/L6liIV) reported.
Petrie said his company began shooting without a permit because it had an understanding with forest officials.
"They said that since we were getting the paperwork signed and everybody on the forest knew what we were doing, that it was OK to film," Petrie said.
However, he said a Forest Service law enforcement officer ran into a videographer and began an investigation when he learned they did not yet have a signed permit. Forest officials declined comment.
Court records said the Forest Service rejected a June 19 application for a commercial filming permit after learning Minnesota-based Muddy Boot Productions had already been filming on forest lands. Court records said the company also filmed on forest lands on July 6, after the permit was denied.
The cable TV show that chronicles the lives of conservation officers received a similar citation in 2011 for two days of filming in Montana and was fined $500 for each day. It had the proper permits in 2012.
"We're in the process of getting our permits for the 2014 season already," Petrie said.
The show is entering its fourth season and airs on the Outdoor Channel.
Jim Kropp, the head of law enforcement for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, said he appreciates Petrie taking responsibility for his actions, and his wardens look forward to continuing with the show.
"The cool thing about the 'Wardens' show is it is full reality. We don't set anything up or gear anything toward TV," Kropp said. "These guys jump in our trucks, fly along with our wardens and capture a day in the life for them."
Information from: Independent Record, http://www.helenair.com