A landowner who regularly interferes with the public's access to one of Montana’s streams has the notoriety of being a point of concern at two Fish, Wildlife & Parks Commission meetings.
Landowner Shawn Tetica has repeatedly threatened recreationalists trying to use the Boulder Forks Fishing Access Site to launch their boats onto the Boulder River south of Big Timber.
The Boulder Forks Fishing Access Site has existed for more than 30 years and Tetica has an easement on the road through the site to reach the bridge leading to his property.
Tetica’s father unsuccessfully opposed construction of the fishing access site, and now Tetica, unhappy with the increasing recreational traffic along the road, regularly harasses boaters.
At the Aug. 6 commission meeting, commissioner Richard Tourtlotte reported that Tetica ramped the conflict up a notch on June 20 when he allegedly rammed another vehicle with his car.
“It’s what I consider to be quite a dangerous action taken against two people using the fishing access site,” Tourtlotte said.
Scott and Jaycee Hagfeldt were parked at the fishing access while they unloaded their gear.
Tetica drove off his property and ran over some items the Hagfeldts had stacked along the road.
Tourtlotte said Tetica soon returned, gunned his engine and accelerated toward Hagfeldt’s car where Jaycee was unloading gear from the passenger side.
Tetica hit the Hagfeldt’s car, tore the door off and drove away.
Scott Hagfeldt reported the incident to the sheriff and the Montana Highway Patrol. Jaycee wasn’t hurt but the Hagfeldt’s vehicle had to be towed to town. The repairs cost almost $10,000.
“After hearing the history of what’s happened there before, it was clearly not an accident,” Tourlotte said. “I don’t see how Mr. Tetica could have been concerned at all for the safety of Jaycee Hagfeldt and I think that’s probably the most outrageous thing. We can have disagreements. But when you take violence and intimidation and scare two people who I represent and other people who use this access, it shocks me.”
Jaycee wrote a letter asking the county attorney to press charges. County Attorney Patrick Dringman chose to go with a misdemeanor charge of negligent driving. Dringman is also pushing FWP to move the boat launch.
Tourtlotte said Tetica could have been charged with three felonies so he’s encouraged the couple to press for further investigation.
Chairman Dan Vermillion said it was a problem last summer when there were reports of Tetica firing guns.
“At this point, there’s a lot of folks in Livingston that just won’t use that access,” Vermillion said.
FWP is considering reconfiguring the access site in an effort to reduce conflict, but Tourlotte said he wouldn’t support spending sportsmen’s dollars on work prompted by Tetica’s extortion.
“If it stands as a misdemeanor, I wonder if that emboldens the person to act out in other outrageous and inappropriate ways,” Tourtlotte said.
It certainly hasn’t been a deterrent, because Tetica’s name was front and center at the commission’s Aug. 25 conference call.
“There’s been another incident with Mr. Tetica and a resident of Park County. As it was reported to me, it involved pretty much the same mechanism: intimidation and the intent to do bodily injury or damage to property with a vehicle,” Tourtlotte said Tuesday. “It’s more than concerning that this person is notorious enough to make two commission reports.”
Vermillion said one of Tetica's neighbors recently told him that Tetica uses the same tactics with her as he does with the boaters: He claims to have an easement across her property and speeds through her yard; he tells her to move her dog or he'll run over it.
“All sorts of different stuff that is just bullying, intimidating-type of behavior,” Vermillion said. “It sounds like a consistent pattern. Instead of sitting down with somebody and trying to work something out, he’s just getting angry and storming around. Hopefully, that will get sorted out some time in the future.”