A group of us went to Helena, to the 2 day EQC meetings to speak out on a number of conservation sportsmens issues. We had set up with a couple of our senators that section of the agenda to deal with game damage and elk shoulder seasons.
I watched that hearing on PBS. Kat, you did well in articulating the issues clearly. Unfortunately some with "hemorrhoidal" perspectives will have difficulty in sorting out the issues.
Rancher anecdotal remarks reflected a skewed attitude regarding hunters based on isolated long ago incidents. It is always difficult to change those ingrained attitudes. The other seemingly skewed attitude was expressed by the UPOM representative who characterized the issuing of licenses and permits by FWP as "commercializing" wildlife. That group always distorts logic to assert rights and perspectives that really aren't applicable or even actual.
The biggest issues are landowners picking hunters and the hunt taking place in whole district besides just affected ranches. Not to mention that objective numbers are way off. We need to get the legislature out of game management and let the bios use science
A number of us were there for both days, speaking up on a series of interconnected subjects that are important to our sportsmens issues. Then we had a meeting with Director Hagener afterward, a paper trail of sorts. Below are the notes I sent out on the newsletter yesterday. Straight Arrow, yes, by Brendans reactions, I think I pissed him off a number of times and dont think he is interested in the realities. I need to go back through the audio on the DNRC leases section and transcribe his quotes about people not speaking up for fear and retribution/retaliation. He especially didnt like my comments about ballot initiatives and why we are left with no other choice.
September 9 Video link DNRC Program Evaluation 1:08:55, $2.00 of every conservation license goes to the Trust Lands, whether you use them or not, which generated $1 million, from about 500,000 licenses (hunt, fish or trap) sold last year. Recreational Use License (hike, camp, chop firewood) $10, $20 for a family, about 7000 sold raised about $163,000. Kathryn QannaYahu 1:23:09, unreasonably low outfitter lease rates, inconsistent lease prices. Ron Moody 1:30:46, DNRC lands poorly signed and identified, needs to work on signage so the recreation community knows where available state land is, especially at access points, would be great service to the public.
Federal Road Management (HJ13) 5:48:20 - Ron Moody for Public Land/Water Access Association 6:35:04; Rob Bullis 6:39:00 other roads than just Forest Service roads involved; Gayle Joslin 6:41:00 habitat security denigration causing social conflicts - wildlife security standards.
Public Access to Federal Land (HJ13) 7:25:38 - Kathryn QannaYahu 8:05:22 private landowners illegally blocking access should be fined, HB 304. Contrary to next speaker HB 304 sought to include among the willful, intentional neglect or failure to act obstructions, a locked gate as an encroachment. With the fine being increased from $10 a day to $500 dollars a day. Ron Moody, PLWA 8:18:00 only costs $10-$15 for chain and padlock to close a public road, but it costs $50,000-$100,000 in legal fees and 20 years of litigation with 2 or 3 trips to the State Supreme Court.
September 10 Video Link FWP Program Evaluation: Wildlife Conflict Management - also Game Damage, Elk Shoulder Season - Marc Cooke with Wolves of the Rockies spoke to declining conflicts with wolves, wildlife urban interface conflicts which involves more than just predators; Kathryn QannaYahu EMWH, 56:21 Game Damage Audit failure, outfitter connection to over objective conversation; Jim Posewitz retired FWP 1:05:52 Public Trust, antlerless qualifications; Gayle Joslin retired FWP, Helena Hunters & Anglers 1:11:5, Game Damage, privatization perfect storm, wildlife standards; Tony Schoonen 1:21:21 game damage and elk shoulder seasons will put hunting back decades; Chuck Denowah (UPOM) 1:23:58 spoke for commercialization as a way for landowners to recoup costs; Leroy Mehring Vice President of Skyline Sportsmen's Association 1:26:23 this game damage amendment and elk shoulder seasons will open the door for ranching for wildlife, game was here on the ground before landowners, belong to the people of the state of Montana; Lorry Thomas President of Anaconda Sportsmen Association 1:28:12 against commercialization of our wildlife, afraid we are losing our fish & game department; Ron Moody, former FWP Commissioner, 1:28:53 strength of public access, ownership of public wildlife, public trust management of wildlife; Rob Bullis 1:41:50 we have the brain power to figure out how to make this better, step back and evaluate; Nick Gevock Montana Wildlife Federation 1:45:14 constitutional law that landowners accept wildlife is a condition of the land, landowners have to choose to use game damage, speaks to need for harboring bill; Harold Johns President of Skyline Sportsmen's Association 1:48:19 FWP isnt looking out for sportsmen, but landowners, baiting is occurring in Montana and is against the law; Tom Pozega 1:53:01 remember our heritage for future generations, Montana is Last Best Place. John Gibson, President of PLWA, sent a written comment which I submitted to the EQC, advocating for the Public Trust Doctrine and North American Model, that the wildlife belong to the people, against privatization.
FWP Director's Agency Update - 3:20:? - Kathryn QannaYahu EMWH 3:48:47 we are not welfare recipients, our sportsmens dollars pay for our agency and we deserve scientific wildlife management from our FWP agency, which is a member of AFWA and WAFWA, subscribing to the Public Trust Doctrine and North American Model of Wildlife Conservation.
Looks like there were some very good points made there. The wildlife is public owned and also a condition of owning 1000s of acres. Does not make sense to destroy a public commodity just because of a few broken fences. I believe this has nothing to do with game damage but wanting to charge for wildlife. Bet the outfitters are all for it.
Public Comment so far:
Even split so far between support and opposition. 1000 comments received.
Final adoption October 8.
• Will lead to commercialization;
• landowners will select bull hunters and sell hunts;
• will ruin bull numbers;
• will ruin archery season;
• criteria require too much general season harvest;
• don’t have three years of criteria data;
• should include criteria for participation;
• not all hunting districts need shoulder seasons;
• will disguise and perpetuate real problem of restricted access to elk;
• bypasses existing landowner incentives to provide access;
• elk objectives are too old (10 years);
• elk objective based on habitat capacity;
• don’t count some elk;
• antlerless only season;
• FWP cannot measure or communicate results;
• no mechanism to improve harvest or access;
• elk calves too young/small in August;
• these will just be cleanup hunts;
• should do an EIS;
• only placates landowners and legislature (no benefit to hunters);
• seasons are long enough (concern about landowners and elk);
• season is not the problem—access is;
• undermines game damage eligibility;
• will ruin public land hunting;
• too much discretion for local FWP staff;
• there is a loophole in criteria.
Questions from commission.
Wolfe: Most important message we’re hearing today is IF guidelines are approved, any specific shoulder season proposal will go to commission, public review and comment, and back to commission for final approval. A lot of folks didn’t understand that. People thought the department would have the discretion to implement this whenever and wherever they wanted with no input from Commission. That’s not the case.
Even if shoulder seasons go forward, will still need game damage hunts in some areas.
Provides an opportunity for different local and sportsman’s groups to collaborate to come up with creative solutions.
Really don’t like the idea of including bull harvest in the shoulder seasons. Could support it if it’s in the guidelines that commission could take a close look at on any specific proposal. Support giving the department the flexibility to consider it, but have strong concerns about bull harvests.
Stuker: Also has a problem with bulls being included. Does not including them preclude us from doing damage hunts for bulls if they’re causing the problem. Kujala. No. It does not preclude that.
Public comments and department responses will be publicly available.