UPOM suing FWP over elk regulations

DougStickney

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Lots of ground to cover, and I have very little time at the moment. I’ll speak only to Eastern Mt.

Short answer is the elk were “re-introduced” in the 40’s-50’s to the breaks with the agreement that only “x” number elk would be tolerated by the landowners in the area. The landowners saw elk numbers boom, and in the late 80’s early 90’s the breaks were “the go to place”. Easy hunting and access for pretty much all that asked, and tons of public.
Then it changed. Access began tightening up and elk fled to safe zones. Owners of the safe zones look at issue and say, “if it weren’t for us, there’d be no elk”. Hunters cry “hoarders” and so we have the beginning of the rift.
Easy answer is severely limit hunters on public, put perhaps more pressure on private via a PLO(private land only) license. Try it to see if it works, if not scrap it in 2 years.
You aren’t wrong. Just missing a few steps. Update objectives first, then severely limit bull tags for all and continue to give ample cow permits on PRIVATE. Not hard to fix except when you cut bull permits both sides will kick and scream. Nobody wants the solution to limit hunting pressure, except a few of us maybe.
 

Eric Albus

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Ironically, the new NR landowner who likes elk and wants as many of them as possible is closer to the “original” mindset of longtime inhabitants of this land than are “traditional” owners who hate all competition from wildlife because “the elk weren’t here when I got the ranch”.

Many folks with a “traditional mentality” don’t consider the reality that their perspective of “normal” amounts of game are set from the consequences of land use and settlement that extirpated wildlife and attempted to limit or eliminate anything that competed with “settling” the land.
BS…. The “original” landowners were the Native Americans and they coexisted with wildlife. The next people who came thru wiped out the wildlife, sport and market hunting. Then came homesteader/honyocker, with a mule plow and barbwire. With civilization came game laws and reintroduction of elk. When “my people” homesteaded there were no elk. So the “traditional” number of elk in eastern and most of Mt is ZERO.
 

Eric Albus

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People need to wait in line for a quality hunting experience even the private landowners and outfitters that can shoot cows every year. Demand far out weighs the supply of what Montana is peddling.
I agree with that assessment, but life ain’t fair. If we fail to work with the guy holding the key to the gate elk numbers will continue to escalate. So we have a conundrum. Give the gatekeeper a
Permit, get access for a few bulls and lotsa cows. Win/win/win….landowner win, sportsmen win, wildlife win(killing cows 🟰 less chance of disease wiping out whole herd).

If anyone should be opposed to 454 it’s me.
Why?

Glad you asked.

454 drives up land values pure and simple. I’m in the business of buying land. High land prices are bad for expansion. So think about that one next time one or more of you accuse me of ulterior motives. Kind of like Big shooter and myself trying to figure a way to fund more access programs…talk about voting to shoot oneself in the foot?!?
One other choice we have is give these landowners the finger, they close the gates for good, and they still go hunt elk on their own place annually. So the real loser is the guys failing to work with them, at least that’s how I see things at the moment.
 

Gerald Martin

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@Eric Albus. You are making my point well. Native Americans appreciated wildlife and saw them as essential for their own survival. This relationship existed for hundreds if not thousands of years.

The time frame of wildlife extirpation took less than 100 years. The time frame of ranching and agriculture changing land use has been in existence for less than 200 years.

Current landowners who don’t want to see any elk because there were zero elk when “their people” settled are not the historic “norm” of attitudes towards wildlife in that area.

New landowners who appreciate wildlife and want to see populations grow closer to what they were several hundred years ago are closer to historic norms when viewed through a lens of history that considers all of known human history in the region. History didn’t begin when the first plow turned the prairie.


Humans have a pretty common viewpoint of wanting to establish their experience as the “norm” and often tend to fight any perceived changes to that “norm” rather than look for ways to adapt and use change to help them thrive in a changing landscape.

The vast majority of landowners in western MT have learned to adapt to the presence of elk on the landscape and are more accepting of them. This is reflected in higher social tolerance and higher objective numbers in almost every area in the west.

More elk are coming to “your country” simply as a result of your neighbors’ access policies if nothing else. Some folks will learn to adapt and will begin to be more accepting because they see how they can be a net asset. Some will remain entrenched and become bitter because their “norm” is changing and they refuse to change with it.

Elk are just big deer. You personally have figured out how to turn deer into a net asset in “your country”. I don’t hear you complain about deer but I am sure they eat lots of crops that could be converted to cash if sold or fed to cattle.

Too be sure, expanding elk herds bring significant challenges with them. They also bring significant benefits.
 

Gerald Martin

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Also, @Eric Albus. Serious question. Why should I care that elk numbers remain “at objective” in units that list “ no elk” as their objective? Or units that contain millions of acres of public land and have an “objective” of 200-300 elk?


How are my interests advanced by those units being at or under objective? What is the net benefit for myself and tens of thousands of other MT resident hunters? We are public trust shareholders too. Bring us on board to why we should support reducing elk from 140,000 to the 90,000 that “objectives” call for.
 

Eric Albus

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Also, @Eric Albus. Serious question. Why should I care that elk numbers remain “at objective” in units that list “ no elk” as their objective? Or units that contain millions of acres of public land and have an “objective” of 200-300 elk?


How are my interests advanced by those units being at or under objective? What is the net benefit for myself and tens of thousands of other MT resident hunters? We are public trust shareholders too. Bring us on board to why we should support reducing elk from 140,000 to the 90,000 that “objectives” call for.
Simple, the elk in some LE areas of the east are costing “Montana born and bred ranchers” a lot of $$. I talked with a biologist buddy of mine, and the number of elk is around 2.5-3 per cow. Those “traditional owners” are more accepting of hunters than the “new” landowners. Keep numbers low enough to keep Montana born and bred folks owing ranches.

To the “natives”, they had life much better figured out in some ways. Just remember this though, they’d still be living in a teepee riding a horse. Nothing wrong with that from my point of view. What better life, hunt for sustenance, maybe war with the neighbors, women doing all the work, I can see why the Calvary was afraid of men defecting. It’s an appealing way of life. However we ain’t going back, so let’s deal with what we have today.
 

Gerald Martin

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“ However we ain’t going back, so let’s deal with what we have today”

I heartily concur.

Part of what we have today is unnecessary contention because of a lack of collaboration between shareholders to try and achieve shared goals when possible. Currently, the political tug of war is allowing a certain segment of shareholders to goad FWP into implementing policies that directly harm the resource and the interests of other shareholders.


There needs to be a dramatic reduction of hunting pressure on public lands to allow elk to spend more time there instead of on private sanctuary areas. That is going to require less cow tags being issued and less harvest in those areas.

UPOM and MOGA relentlessly elbowing their way to the head of the line when it comes allocation of access to bull tags is directly harmful to hunter/landowner relationships. They claim to be advocating for working landowners but are using them as pawns to advance their financial interests.

Another reality is that some landowners want more elk. Their perspective is just as valid as the landowners who are suffering financial hardship from elk and want less. FWP cannot legally force those landowners to allow access or reduce elk when they are on their property. That’s a landowner/landowner relationship dynamic that hunters are not really relevant in affecting. However the policies that are implemented because of the demands for less elk definitely affects hunters in a negative manner.

I would way rather work collaboratively together to implement management strategies that benefit shareholders than I would fight other interests at the Capitol every legislative session. However, if it takes a legal fight to see better herd management implemented and improved hunting experience on public land then you can guarantee I will be doing my best to ensure that my interests are represented.

The shameful thing is it really doesn’t have to resort to that. Unfortunately, I have no confidence that our current administration and FWP leadership is as concerned about forging durable management agreements as they are interested in getting some quick political points and continuing conflict.
 

Eric Albus

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IMO, BACK FROM THE BRINK should be mandatory reading for any Montana hunter, or citizen for that matter. Terry & Martha Lonner, producers and owners of Media Works are my friends from college days at MSU. Terry is a not only a media and historical specialist, he is a retired FWP wildlife biologist who studied elk his entire career. He personally worked with and knew many of the wildlife experts featured in this book and documentary.

The wildlife restoration story is fascinating and highlights the healthy attitude of farmers, ranchers, hunters, and wildlife managers during a critical era of restoring wildlife to the Montana landscape. A study regarding the monetary impact on agriculture never crossed anyone's mind. The prevalent attitude of those times was what was entrenched in my mind. An Elk "objective" number wasn't even a thing. It was as though there was universal agreement that Montana could sustain an ever increasing number of elk. The management plan would focus on distribution mechanisms rather than massive harvests and depletion of wildlife.

Farmers and ranchers merely accepted wildlife as part of the deal and worked to fence and otherwise keep them out of hay and the crops susceptible to damage. If only we could get back to valuing wildlife more than just what can be translated to a dollar amount!
It’d be great if we could “get back valuing wildlife more than $$. I wish you the best of luck in that endeavor.

Meanwhile here in the real world, I’ll be happy that wildlife has a monetary value, without it Africa would be game less, and North America would be nearly void of game.
 

Greenhorn

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It’d be great if we could “get back valuing wildlife more than $$. I wish you the best of luck in that endeavor.

Meanwhile here in the real world, I’ll be happy that wildlife has a monetary value, without it Africa would be game less, and North America would be nearly void of game.
We're not a 3rd world country. It's called the North American Model... and the wildlife is owned by the people of Montana, not just for use by those with most land and the most money.
 

406dn

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It’d be great if we could “get back valuing wildlife more than $$. I wish you the best of luck in that endeavor.

Meanwhile here in the real world, I’ll be happy that wildlife has a monetary value, without it Africa would be game less, and North America would be nearly void of game.

I can't speak to Africa, but there are many states with robust whitetail deer hunting. Yes, there is a niche, growing nutritionally enhanced antlers, for paying customers, but many many hunters play that game on the cheap.

Also, what North American game animal would be nearly gone without the outfitted hunting industry?
 

Gerald Martin

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I can't speak to Africa, but there are many states with robust whitetail deer hunting. Yes, there is a niche, growing nutritionally enhanced antlers, for paying customers, but many many hunters play that game on the cheap.

Also, what North American game animal would be nearly gone without the outfitted hunting industry?

The outfitting industry only exists because of the North American Wildlife Model. That model allows for markets to be built around placing value on live wildlife and forbids most markets built on dead wildlife.
 

sacountry

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I can't speak to Africa, but there are many states with robust whitetail deer hunting. Yes, there is a niche, growing nutritionally enhanced antlers, for paying customers, but many many hunters play that game on the cheap.

Also, what North American game animal would be nearly gone without the outfitted hunting industry?
Unfortunately in many Midwestern states, Whitetail hunting is severely compromised by increased hunter #s and decreased access, sound familiar? Guys back in MN are hunting a small handful of days per season and tickled to see a buck, let alone shoot one, moreover not get shot themselves.

We need to be mindful of whitetail patterns in more populated states and their management techniques because MT is right behind them with arguable more at stake.

Enhanced access programs will always be the key to effective management. That and outlawing filmmakers from content about MT.
 

406dn

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Unfortunately in many Midwestern states, Whitetail hunting is severely compromised by increased hunter #s and decreased access, sound familiar? Guys back in MN are hunting a small handful of days per season and tickled to see a buck, let alone shoot one, moreover not get shot themselves.

We need to be mindful of whitetail patterns in more populated states and their management techniques because MT is right behind them with arguable more at stake.

Enhanced access programs will always be the key to effective management. That and outlawing filmmakers from content about MT.

I must admit my first hand experience with midwestern whitetail hunting is dated by forty plus years. We moved to Montana in 81. Likely the hunting there is much different than back in the day.
 

Sytes

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Interesting review of the meeting(s). This portion stood out from my read.

“That’s one thing we haven’t talked about so far, is that a lot of these hunts haven’t had so much of a value put to them,” Steinberger said. “And elk definitely have a dollar amount to them. So, whether that’s $10,000 or $20,000, it’s not a small value. So that’s some of the reason this is contentious, is because it is so valuable.”

Many hunters are worried landowners are attempting to monetize public wildlife by working toward legislation or regulations that would provide them with transferable tags. that could be sold.

During the discussion over Tribby’s proposal the question was raised: Is the 454 program about reducing herd size or is it about managing the size of bull elk on a landowner’s property? Some landowner members of the PLPW said the 454 program is about both. Tribby disagreed, saying the program is about managing wildlife.

“It doesn’t talk about the size of the trophies,” he said.

Roth argued that the quality of the bulls benefits the genetics of the elk herd, just like having a good bull benefits a cattle rancher.
 

Nameless Range

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Interesting review of the meeting(s). This portion stood out from my read.

“That’s one thing we haven’t talked about so far, is that a lot of these hunts haven’t had so much of a value put to them,” Steinberger said. “And elk definitely have a dollar amount to them. So, whether that’s $10,000 or $20,000, it’s not a small value. So that’s some of the reason this is contentious, is because it is so valuable.”

Many hunters are worried landowners are attempting to monetize public wildlife by working toward legislation or regulations that would provide them with transferable tags. that could be sold.

During the discussion over Tribby’s proposal the question was raised: Is the 454 program about reducing herd size or is it about managing the size of bull elk on a landowner’s property? Some landowner members of the PLPW said the 454 program is about both. Tribby disagreed, saying the program is about managing wildlife.

“It doesn’t talk about the size of the trophies,” he said.

Roth argued that the quality of the bulls benefits the genetics of the elk herd, just like having a good bull benefits a cattle rancher.

The rules of the game changing right before our eyes. The true motives now safe to talk about. And the obvious direction the program has and will continue to morph into.

The 454 program is a net-loss to Montanans in terms of its utility.
 

DougStickney

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454 program should be scrapped. Landowners have been given the tools to manage they choose not to use them. Hunters need to realize they will never get to hunt private and management needs to be focused on the accessible areas. This would include a decrease of tags and a decrease of opportunity if we want to maintain any quality of hunt.
 

Greenhorn

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Let us help landowners address these "problem elk" but just remember, we will certainly not be chasing any of these elk off the property where they can be "slaughtered" by anyone other than who the landowner/outfitter approve of. These grossly over objective units are making life hellish on these landowners, but not to the point of flushing a few big bulls off the property where they may inadvertently taken by a hunter.

Life isn't fair, so give us the bull permits that are worth upwards of $10,000 as an incentive to let a few hand picked pals come hunt, or maybe some random despicable public folks in to cull a cow or two. You can either give us the bull permits we want, or choose to give us the finger, it's as simple as that. And oh yeah, life isn't fair. Remember that. You could live in Tanzania. Be thankful for the Jimmy Johns and astute organizations like MOGA that make this world go round.
 
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MONTANANS INTERVENE IN LAWSUIT ATTACKING STATE MANAGEMENT OF ELK​

https://www.keepelkpublic.org/

HELENA, Mont. – A coalition of Montana hunting and conservation groups has taken formal action to oppose the lawsuit filed in April by the United Property Owners of Montana against Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Fish & Wildlife Commission, calling it “an attack on wildlife management and Montana’s egalitarian hunting traditions.”

Composed of Helena Hunters and Anglers, Hellgate Hunters and Anglers, Montana Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Montana Bowhunters Association, Montana Wildlife Federation, Public Land Water Access Association and Skyline Sportsmen, the coalition filed a motion to intervene on behalf of FWP and the citizens of Montana. The groups represent a broad array of interests and are committed to maintaining long-term, proven management that benefits all Montanans, not just a privileged few. All have a strong record of public participation in decisions affecting Montana’s natural resources and hunting heritage.

UPOM, an organization of out-of-state and resident landowners with a history of opposing the concept that public wildlife are owned by the public in Montana, alleges in its suit that the public process for managing elk and setting hunting regulations in Montana is unconstitutional. It attempts to force FWP to act to reduce elk numbers in the state substantially – by upwards of 50,000 animals – and giving landowners authority over management practices of elk on their properties, including opportunities to sell elk tags to the highest bidder. Similar attempts by UPOM at the legislative and commission levels have been loudly opposed and soundly defeated.

“Elk are a cornerstone of Montana hunting traditions,” said Steve Platt, president of Helena Hunters and Anglers. “UPOM and its billionaire backers are trying to privatize our public elk herds for their own gain. The citizens of Montana will not let them get away with this!”

“Hellgate Hunters & Anglers is proud to join in standing up for Montana’s elk and our time-honored, science-based wildlife management practices,” said Walker Conyngham, president of Hellgate Hunters & Anglers. “Montana hunters across the state look to the department and our wildlife managers for responsible, equitable management of our big game species. We’re stepping up to protect those men and women, Montana hunters, and our elk herds from this reckless, misguided attempt to fundamentally change elk management in our state.”

“The United Property Owners of Montana would like to upend Montana’s well-established wildlife management model, as well as Montana’s public hunting traditions,” said John Sullivan, chair of Montana Backcountry Hunters & Anglers. “Regardless of our political affiliations, economic backgrounds and other views, we all have a stake in opposing this lawsuit and supporting responsive, state-based management of Montana game populations. The Montana chapter of Backcountry Hunters & Anglers is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with other groups who are taking action to defend elk management, as well as public hunting opportunity, in Montana.”

“We will not stand by and allow the United Property Owners of Montana to strongarm the state of Montana,” said Ken Schultz, president of the Montana Bowhunters Association. “We will stand strong along with several other groups in Montana who are stepping up to support the FWP and the state in this battle and in their efforts to manage elk populations in Montana.

“All the years of hard work by past and current state employees – and the committees that have spent hours of volunteer time to come up with a solid plan to manage the elk populations – would be for naught if UPOM succeeded in making this a ‘pay to play’ state,” Schultz continued. “This would change elk hunting for generations to come. This just can’t happen! We must unite and fight back with our fellow hunting partners in Montana.”

“The public season setting process has been used for decades,” said Chris Servheen, board chair, Montana Wildlife Federation. “To suddenly try to throw out years of hard work and wisdom from scientists, agency professionals, duly appointed fish and wildlife commissioners, and engaged citizens is simply wrong. What this lawsuit seeks to do is what UPOM has failed to do at the legislature: turn elk hunting into a rich man’s game in Montana. UPOM couldn't get its way in the legislature or the commission, and now instead of talking with those they disagree with, they filed a lawsuit.

“Elk in Montana belong to the public, not to wealthy special interests,” Servheen continued. “Generations of public hunters have stood up for science-based elk management, and the Montana Wildlife Federation is proud to stand with our partners to fight to keep elk public for public hunters.”

“PLWA values, recognizes, and appreciates the contributions private lands and landowners continue to make to ensure Montana is home to robust, viable, and huntable populations of elk and other wildlife statewide,” said Drewry Hanes, executive director of Public Land Water Access Association. “Central to this is the legal and social construct of elk and other wildlife to be held in the public trust for the benefit of all – elk are not to be owned and sold by private interests. The UPOM lawsuit challenges this very essence and what has served Montana well for more than 100 years. We believe in and uphold the principles of public participation, science-based management, equity in opportunity, and the duty to hold our elected and appointed officials responsible and accountable.”
 
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