ENNIS — More than a dozen Madison River enthusiasts came back from the water last week, only to discover someone vandalized each of their vehicles.
The many fishing access and recreation areas between Lyons Bridge and the Palisades Recreation Area, both of which are south of Ennis, are used by hundreds if not thousands of people every summer.
So when at least 15 different car and truck owners came back and found their tires slashed, the Madison County Sheriff’s Office began to investigate but it’s the businesses that felt the impact.”
“It’s pretty vindictive,” says Claude Mulholland of Dorothy’s Shuttle Service in Ennis. “Pure, straight vandalism.”
Vehicle by vehicle across nearly 10 miles of various Madison River access points, people returned to their cars and trucks to find their vehicles with multiple slashed tires on the morning of Wednesday, July 14.
A number of them were fishing guides and clients.
“That’s not right,” Mulholland says. “I don’t care what you tell me.”
In all of his 25 years shuttling people from Ennis to the river, Claude Mulholland says it could send the wrong message about the area.
One of his clients was another victim.
“It could hurt [the area] because people will be apprehensive about coming here,” Mulholland says.
With no cameras installed in such a rural yet internationally-known portion of the Madison River, deputies say it will be difficult to find a culprit.
“It’s very important for us, for any of the fishermen that fish on the river,” Mulholland says. “They have to have access to the river and this gives them access.”
But this is not stopping people like Claude.
“People are going to fish. And they want to fish and they are not going to let this kind of thing deter them from what they want to do,” Mulholland says. “What we are going to do, let some criminal stop us from doing what we want to do? I’m not. Nobody is. It’s an important part of our lives here in Montana.”
The Madison County Sheriff’s Office says anyone who knows any information is asked to call them at (406) 843-5301.
They do say it is going to come down to tips, so any call and any information could help solve the case.
Also, the fishing community is helping their own, with guides rallying behind a GoFundMe page to help them continue getting people out on the water.