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Montana Human Remains Process (11-MT-b)



Human Remains Process Process

11-MT-b.1 - Cease Operations and Contact County Coroner

MCA 22-3-805:

(1) A [developer] who by...construction, or other ground-disturbing activity discovers human skeletal remains, a burial site, or burial material shall immediately notify the county coroner. Failure to notify the county coroner subjects a person to the penalty provided in 22-3-808.


11-MT-b.2 - Determine if the Remains Are Human and Any Evidence of a Crime

MCA 22-3-805:

(2) Upon discovery of human skeletal remains, a burial site, or burial material, excavation or further disturbance must cease until the coroner has determined whether the remains are subject to the provisions of Title 46, chapter 4, or any other related provisions of law concerning the investigation of the circumstances, manner, and cause of death or whether a forensic examination of the human skeletal remains, burial site, or burial material is necessary. The coroner shall make a determination within 2 working days from the time the person responsible for the excavation notifies the coroner of the discovery or recognition of the remains. If the coroner cannot make the determination within 2 working days, the coroner shall notify a member of the board of the reason for and the approximate length of the delay. The coroner shall take all reasonable steps to make a determination without removing or causing further disturbance of the remains.


11-MT-b.3 - Are the Remains Not Human or if Human, Not Evidence of a Crime?

MCA 22-3-805:

(3) If a forensic examination, action under Title 46, chapter 4, or action under any other related provisions of law concerning the investigation of the circumstances, manner, and cause of death is necessary and yields evidence of criminal activity, the evidence may be seized by the coroner or law enforcement agency with jurisdiction for use in a criminal proceeding as provided by law.

11-MT-b.4 - Contact Law Enforcement

11-MT-b.5 - Notify SHPO

MCA 22-3-805:

(4) If the coroner determines that the remains are not subject to the provisions of Title 46, chapter 4, or any other provisions of law concerning the investigation of the circumstances, manner, and cause of death and that a forensic examination is not necessary, the coroner shall telephone the state historic preservation officer within 24 hours.

11-MT-b.6 - Contact Land Owner and Notify Burial Board

Within 24 hours of notification, the state historic preservation officer shall contact either the landowner and the board or the landowner and the board member representing the nearest reservation and notify them of the discovery of human skeletal remains, a burial site, or burial material.

11-MT-b.7 - Consult with Land Owner and Determine Course of Action

MCA 22-3-805:

(6) Within 36 hours after the board receives notification of a discovery...the board shall designate representatives to conduct, with the permission of the landowner, an initial field review. If the field review cannot be completed within the next 36 hours, the board's representatives shall negotiate with the landowner or the landowner's representative for a reasonable time extension to complete the review. The field review must include:

  • (a) a determination of whether the site can be preserved;
  • (b) negotiation with the landowner concerning onsite reburial or disinterment and reburial; and
  • (c) a recommendation, including a timeframe, concerning final treatment or disposition of the human skeletal remains or burial material.

11-MT-b.8 - Did Burial Board Approve Continuing the Project?

The developer may continue with the project after any field study/excavation has been completed and the burial board gives its approval.

11-MT-b.9 - Continue with Project




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