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HB 505: A Lack of Thought On The Road To Commercialization of Our Wildlife

Nameless Range

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Just food for thought as you are analyzing this. Could there be additional landowners who might qualify but are not ferreted out in the data? It says "640 contiguous acres" in the bill. I don't *think* that means it needs to be one parcel. I don't know how you could pull out landowners who own smaller, contiguous acreage, of which the deeded parcels each are less than 640 acres, but in aggregate meet that 640 contiguous acreage requirement.

I realize I'm in the weeds, and don't know if that is common up there or not. But it seems to be pretty common around here.

I dissolved ownership by distinct landowner, so I would catch those. The data I created may very well overstate, and once I know the bill hearing date I will put a lot more effort into creating a clean data set that is more reliable.
 

Ben Lamb

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Let me preface this by saying I'm against this bill and anything that resembles commercialization of wildlife. With that said, I was reading the bill and pasted Section 1.2 below. I may have missed it somewhere, but it sounds like either-sex tags are only applicable in units at objective, any over/under objective units don't qualify. Then, in section 1.3, it says there's an antlerless option in over-objective units (plus 5 bonus points if you go this route).

IF that's the case, it'd eliminate a lot of units. Personally, I don't like the thought or precedent of having any Ranching for Wildlife here, no matter the unit, but want to understand it correctly and know for sure what we're up against.

"(2) A landowner may sponsor up to 10 license applicants pursuant to this section if the landowner owns 640 or more contiguous acres within a hunting district where the sustainable population number for elk, as calculated pursuant to 87-1-323, is at objective as determined by the department's most recent elk survey count. If the most recent elk survey count is above or below the sustainable population number, a landowner does not qualify."


Given the history of the over-objective districts, this still doesn't get to the heart of the issue - lack of public hunters shooting enough cow elk.

It does incentivize harboring though. If you are going to make upwards of $100K on transferable licenses, why in the world would you want to reduce the herd level to get rid of those licenses, which are almost entirely profit?

Add on top of this the latitude given to the commission to ignore this part of the bill and you will quickly have an abused program, much like Shoulder seasons being abused as landowners & outfitters seek to keep herds inflated so they can get some late season cash form the everyday hunter looking to fill his freezer.

There are a ton of loopholes in this thing that will make it pretty easy to game the system. It's a bad retread of the transferable elk license bill from 2015 that was hijacked in committee to expand the 454 program.

At the heart of this bill - it's ranching for wildlife.

Edit: If you add HB 417 into this mix, which eliminates permits at over objective units, you quickly see a scenario where all general tags are either sex, along with 2 extra B tags for cow elk.
 
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Nameless Range

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Spent last night working on improving the data.

The Landed Gentry Welfare Bill only applies to districts at "sustainable" populations, i.e. At Objective. But what is currently at objective is irrelevant to showing the grossness of this bill, as that status changes from year to year. I am building landowner tag counts that I will have more faith in than the previous ones, for every district, because these Kings Deer Tags could be gifted out of thin air as soon as a district meets the criteria.

I'll try and wrap that up tonight, but in the meantime, since I haven't seen FWP put one out, here is a most recent status map of our districts and their objective statuses. Really kind of surprising how many districts don't have quantifiable objectives.


ElkDistrictsMap.jpg
 
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Nameless Range

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This is a statewide map of essentially all parcels that would qualify if the hunting district that those parcels lie in were within the criteria of the bill. Everyone of those polygons represents a distinct owner within a distinct hunting district who owns more than 640 acres in that hunting district.

In terms of area, this is 46 million acres - over 45% of the State of Montana.

StatewideOwnershipOver640inAGivenHD.jpg
 

neffa3

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This is a statewide map of essentially all parcels that would qualify if the hunting district that those parcels lie in were within the criteria of the bill. Everyone of those polygons represents a distinct owner within a distinct hunting district who owns more than 640 acres in that hunting district.

In terms of area, this is 46 million acres - over 45% of the State of Montana.

View attachment 175025
What do the colors represent?
 

Nameless Range

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I am more confident in these numbers than those posted previously, though they are pretty similar. This analysis takes into consideration parcels that are split by HD boundaries, and only counts the acreage of the portions of those parcels within that given HD.

The attached text file is a statewide list of all landowners owning more than 640 acres in an HD, how much they own, and in which HD. It can be brought into excel where one could explore all 14,700 rows.
 

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Nameless Range

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This bill doesn't take into consideration the fact that it could instantly create orders of magnitude more tags than there are elk in an HD (the 700s for example, if 700 were at objective and this bill's criteria were applied, it could create 1,700+ tags for a district that if at objective, would have 200-300 elk in it!) It doesn't take into consideration the fact that plenty of people own land on which no elk live. It doesn't take into consideration the distribution of elk. If a district is at objective, by creating landowner tags out of thin air, FWP will necessarily have to take tags from the pool of plebes who don't pay to hunt. This bill would be very detrimental to Block Management.

All of those are non-issues really. These aren't the King's Elk, and the landed gentry doesn't just get to sell our wildlife because they own large chunks of earth.
 
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Ben Lamb

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This bill doesn't take into consideration the fact that it could instantly create orders of magnitude more tags than there are elk in an HD (the 700s for example, if 700 were at objective and this bill's criteria were applied, it would create 1,700+ tags for a district that if at objective, would have 200-300 elk in it!) It doesn't take into consideration the fact that plenty of people own land on which no elk live. It doesn't take into consideration the distribution of elk. If a district is at objective, by creating landowner tags out of thin air, FWP will necessarily have to take tags from the pool of plebes who don't pay to hunt.

All of those are non-issues really. These aren't the King's Elk, and the landed gentry doesn't just get our wildlife because they own large chunks of earth.
 

Nameless Range

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I'm reading the bill again and am confused by the text of Section 2... A class A-5 tag is the resident general elk tag right? So as it's currently written, any resident general tag holder can designate that they will only use the tag for antlerless elk on private and can then get 6 bonus points? Please tell me I'm crazy!!

You are not crazy, but this bill is batchit.
 

teamhoyt

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So I just reread this bill. The key points as I see them are as follows.
1. Landowners can NOT receive any tags if the elk objective is not AT objective.
2. A general license holder can forgo applying for a LQ permit and instead choose to shoot a cow on private land and receive 6 bonus points for each year they participate in this process.
3. If any of the landowner tags are issued, those are above and beyond the 17000 tags normally issued.


Are there any points I missed?

So just for conversation sake.
Would point #1, give incentive to landowners to allow public access to their property for elk? They can't get any of these tags till the population decreases so...

It seams point #2 would be popular to many...hunt cows a few years, gather up 30 bonus points squared and have more of a shot at a bull tag in the Elkhorns, the years these folk are cow hunting they cannot apply for a special permit.

Point 3, could certainly mean LOTS of tags issued once an area reaches objective...but would it also essentially force landowners to manage those tags and balance elk population accordingly as to not allow objectives to raise or lower, thus losing the landowner tags?

K I'm ready to hear how screwed up my thinking is lol.
 

teamhoyt

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A couple thoughts I have are I don't like landowner tags.
Another is, if this passes. I bet every landowner in the state will push to get the objectives raised and the emp updated Pronto, I could also see the emp become a moving target, adjusting yearly to appease the landowners....
...I dunno maybe elk tolerance will go waaay up in a hurry and it won't be a war on elk🤷‍♂️
 
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Nameless Range

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So I just reread this bill. The key points as I see them are as follows.
1. Landowners can NOT receive any tags if the elk objective is not AT objective.
2. A general license holder can forgo applying for a LQ permit and instead choose to shoot a cow on private land and receive 6 bonus points for each year they participate in this process.
3. If any of the landowner tags are issued, those are above and beyond the 17000 tags normally issued.


Are there any points I missed?

So just for conversation sake.
Would point #1, give incentive to landowners to allow public access to their property for elk? They can't get any of these tags till the population decreases so...

It seams point #2 would be popular to many...hunt cows a few years, gather up 30 bonus points squared and have more of a shot at a bull tag in the Elkhorns, the years these folk are cow hunting they cannot apply for a special permit.

Point 3, could certainly mean LOTS of tags issued once an area reaches objective...but would it also essentially force landowners to manage those tags and balance elk population accordingly as to not allow objectives to raise or lower, thus losing the landowner tags?

K I'm ready to hear how screwed up my thinking is lol.

To point 1, I think in the short term, perhaps, but ultimately as Ben pointed out, in the long run this would incentivise the harboring of elk, and would be short sighted IMO.

To point 2, the arbitrary increase in Bonus Points only applies to those who utilize the landowner tags in a given season. Those tags are transferable, and therefore for sale. To me, this gives unfair advantage in the permit drawing process to those with the money and willingness to buy their elk. Over time, you would see disparate representation in the bonus point system, and really, when people were buying a cow, the value placed on that tag may have more to do with the bonus points. These are transferable, so Galt could charge you $500 for your cow tag, but give his brothers, wife, and uncles their tags for free. Those guys would get unfair advantage in the bonus point system over the rest of us plebes. So in sum, not only would landowners be controlling and commercializing the resource of elk, they would also be controlling and commercializing the weight and distribution of the bonus point system, which after a couple years would represent a sick sort of Good Ol Boys network. People who don't pay to hunt elk getting one point a year, and people who do pay, or are buddies/family with landowner tag recipients, having orders of magnitude more.

To Point 3, I don't trust them to have anything more than a shortsighted view or to coordinate across millions of acres and dozens of different ownerships. Elk are complicated, migratory, and have uneven distribution. "Biologist" is a profession for a reason, and landowner is not biologist. The fact that 1700 cow tags could be generated in a district that when at objective, would have 200 elk, is an appalling disrespect to a legacy IMO.
 

4ohSick

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To point 2, the arbitrary increase in Bonus Points only applies to those who utilize the landowner tags in a given season. Those tags are transferable, and therefore for sale. To me, this gives unfair advantage in the permit drawing process to those with the money and willingness to buy their elk. Over time, you would see disparate representation in the bonus point system, and really, when people were buying a cow, the value placed on that tag may have more to do with the bonus points. These are transferable, so Galt could charge you $500 for your cow tag, but give his brothers, wife, and uncles their tags for free. Those guys would get unfair advantage in the bonus point system over the rest of us plebes. So in sum, not only would landowners be controlling and commercializing the resource of elk, they would also be controlling and commercializing the weight and distribution of the bonus point system, which after a couple years would represent a sick sort of Good Ol Boys network. People who don't pay to hunt elk getting one point a year, and people who do pay, or are buddies/family with landowner tag recipients, having orders of magnitude more.
The way the bill is written, I don't see that distinction being made. The new landowner tags would be designated B-13, while Section 2 states A-5 tags (or nonresident equivalent) can designate to shoot a cow and get 6 points. But correct me if I'm wrong. While I agree your scenario is terrible, it actually concerns me even more that if I'm reading it right every resident hunter could spend a few years shooting cows in shoulder season to get 30 points for the Elkhorns. Talk about point creep!
 

Nameless Range

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The way the bill is written, I don't see that distinction being made. The new landowner tags would be designated B-13, while Section 2 states A-5 tags (or nonresident equivalent) can designate to shoot a cow and get 6 points. But correct me if I'm wrong. While I agree your scenario is terrible, it actually concerns me even more that if I'm reading it right every resident hunter could spend a few years shooting cows in shoulder season to get 30 points for the Elkhorns. Talk about point creep!
I think you may be right. It isn't clear to me.
 
Yeti

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