Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Pure Bull

Senate Bill 143 Threatens to Prohibit Bison Restoration in Montana

Is this déjà vu? Didn’t the legislature have its wily way with bison back in 2011?  Well, you guessed it, they’re back and they still have some beef with the buffalo.  And Senate Bill 143, introduced by John Brendan (R-Scobey), aims to bypass the bi-partisan support forged in 2011 that resulted in Senate Bill 212.  Among other things, SB 212 directed the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks (FWP) to develop a comprehensive statewide bison management plan before any reintroduction effort is undertaken.  That seems like a good idea to us.
And that’s exactly what FWP did this past year by initiating a public planning process for statewide bison management.  During the scoping alone, the department received more than 22,000 comments from individuals and organizations interested in the future of bison in Montana. 
So why are we still arguing in circles about bison management? 
Just when it seems like Fish, Wildlife and Parks and the Department of Livestock have agreed on how to move forward with bison management in the state, the legislature is trying to put us back to square one.  John Brendan’s bison bill (SB 143) declares bison “vermin in need of extermination” eliminating a regulated hunting season, allowing bison to be shot similar to coyotes.  We’ve come a long way in the past 100 years of wildlife management in Montana, let’s not move backwards. 
Senate Bill 143, sponsored by Sen. John Brendan:
·         Allows Landowners to shoot wild bison for any reason if they are on private land so long as they obtain a hunting license
·         Turns Wild Bison management over to the Department of Livestock completely
·         Forbids the State of Montana from ever releasing Wild Bison on Public Land (Section 3, sub 4)
·         Establishes a year round Bison Hunt meaning that people will be shooting pregnant cows during the calving period (Section 9)
·         Forbids the transplanting of bison anywhere other than the National Bison Range at Moise, Montana.
·         Violates the ethics and standards Montana has set in regards to wildlife management
·         Eliminates participation in the Interagency Bison Management Plan & working Group (section 1)
·         Disallows Wild Bison from entering the state
·         Eliminates the ability of the State of Montana to transplant Bison to Tribal Governments completely. (P.2, L.1)
Here is a link to the complete bill:
When: This Thursday, January 31, 3pm
Where: State Capitol Building, Helena, Old Supreme Court Chambers, Room 303
What: Hearing on SB 143, a bill to kill or remove all bison migrating into Montana and end tribal and state efforts to restore wild bison
We need as many people as possible to pack the room to testify against this bill. Even if your testimony is very brief, simply stating your name, address and opposition to the bill, this will help! If you’d like to say more, please do, though the committee may place a time limit on each speaker. Please be respectful but clear in your opposition.
If you cannot attend, please email the Senate Fish and Game Committee here:

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Calling down the thunder

“The fightin’s commenced. Get to fighting or get out of the way”
Wyatt Earp

This fourth week of the 63rd session of the Montana Legislature has gotten off to a rocky start. Political games with highly controversial bills being scheduled hastily so opposition can’t organize easily; shenanigans with secret meetings to try and carve out our access funding for personal and partisan gain; and the return of the anti-public hunter bills like SB 151 are all bubbling. Throw in a little insult of forcing hunters to pay for brucellosis testing, mandates for test and slaughter of elk and stripping hunting privileges away for three years if you accidentally walk on some private ground and you have what is shaping up to be a banner session.

Groups like the United Property Owners of Montana are walking the halls with their lobbyists talking about test and slaughter of elk and transferable licenses for landowners while other groups like Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife try desperately to pass bad legislation that would crater Montana’s ability to hunt wolves.

If you thought 2011 was bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Here’s the list of bills related just to Fish and Wildlife issues. It’s only 139 strong. Only 48 of those have been introduced now, but the doozies are still coming:

Bills that hand over wildlife management to the counties. LC 1855, by Bitterroot freshman legislator Nancy Ballance would cost the tax payers of each county god knows how much as they spend months trying to draft a wildlife management plan. These are the people we’re going to let control our public wildlife?
And then there’s HB 249 and SB 143 – If you want to hunt Wild Buffalo, you can forget it if these bills pass. HB 249 erases 120 years of conservation ethic by allowing landowners to decide if wild bison live or die in the Gardiner Basin. SB 143 seeks to eliminate any bison in the state of Montana other than those privately held. That’s right – kill ‘em all and screw the rest of you. I suppose I shouldn't be so surprised that this war on wildlife and the resident hunter is back in full force. This session went from Kumbaya to all out war over the course of a weekend.

The honeymoon is over, if there ever was one. Batcrap crazy has left the room and buffalo chip nuts has entered. Gear up folks. One thing we like that might see the light of day is a bi-partisan bill to address corner crossing.  This bill put two legislators together who probably don’t agree on anything else, Hellgate Hunters and Anglers member Rep. Ellie Hill (D-Missoula) and Rep. Krayton Kerns (R-Laurel).  Their bill would make it legal to cross from checker boarded public land to public land, opening up 1.5 million acrs of inaccessible public land.  Sign the petition here.

We all have the responsibility to carry on the legacy set in place over a 150 years ago.  Many have come before us to protect our heritage it’ our turn to do our part.  Sign up for the Bully Nation and get those emails, phone calls coming in. Take a sick day and come testify. Stand up for Montana’s wildlife and your opportunity to hunt & fish.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Public Lands in Public Hands

There are about 3.5 million acres of public land in Montana that are off limits to the people who own them: the public.

That’s not right.

But 1.3 million acres could become accessible if HB 235 passes, allowing hunters to cross at corners of public lands. Long held as a legal grey area, corner crossing has been a combative issue all the way back to the early 1990’s.

However, Representative Ellie Hill (D-Missoula) and Representative Kreyton Kerns (R-Laurel) have teamed up to try and make a bi-partisan run on increasing access to public lands. There’s no doubt that these two legislators agree on much, but we’re tickled pink to see this solution move forward.

That’s why we wanted to make sure the Bully Nation knows about the petition floating around to show the Legislature that there’s a ton of support for public access to public lands.

Check it out here

Sign the petition, and forward it on to all your friends. We only have a few days until the House Judiciary Committee takes action on this bill. We do expect some amendments to clarify that this bill applies only to foot traffic, which we support.

Take a minute, sign the petition and let’s get moving on this. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Railroading an Icon

By Jim Posewitz

Should Senate Bill 143 [B1] pass this legislature it will be a historical landmark of considerable significance.  It will mark the point where a rich Montana wildlife conservation ethic held since our territorial years was jammed into a shuddering reverse.
When the first Territorial Legislature convened, brothers James and Granville Stuart were members and they came with a fish and wildlife conservation ethic.  James won passage of legislation protecting fish by restricting harvest to hook and line fishing.  It’s noteworthy that this legislation became Montana law 12 years before Custer bit the dust at the Little Big Horn.
As early as 1872, Granville Stuart successfully championed legislation providing some closed season protection for “… mountain buffalo, moose, elk, black-tailed deer, white-tailed deer, mountain sheep, white Rocky Mountain goat, (and) antelope ….” [1]  All through Montana’s territorial years the Stuarts led efforts to curb the commercial carnage of fish and wildlife, there was however, little means of enforcing what Stuart fought for so valiantly.  At one point a frustrated Granville wrote: “If the legislature does not enact some laws in regard to game and fish, there will not be in a few years so much as a minnow or a deer left alive in all the territory.” [2] 
A Montana wildlife conservation ethic was held by the people and they, through their legislators, asserted that ethic through the years.  In fact this 2013 session marks the 100th anniversary of State Senator T.O. Larsen (R) from Choteau introducing and passing a bill to create the Sun River Game Preserve to promote wildlife recovery. The bill passed the Senate on a vote of 26 to 0 – with 6 absent or not voting. Governor Sam V. Stewart (D) signed the Bill. [3]   There obviously was a legislative conservation ethic in 1913 and it was clearly beyond political party ideology.
Now, a century later, that vision and foresight has provided Montana with the moniker, “The Last, Best Place.”  That identity fits because of the fish and wildlife that has been restored and nurtured since James and Granville Stuart pointed us toward the higher ground.  Today, we stand poised and capable of topping off this conservation legacy by adding the one species that paid the highest price in this epic struggle of wildlife restoration; Buffalo.  The Montana people clearly support a modest level of wild buffalo restoration. Nobody with any credibility is talking about herds thousands strong running through the breaks. What we are talking about is small, isolated herds that fit with the available landscapes, while minimizing the conflict between Montanans.  However, Senate Bill 143 of the 2013 Montana Legislature, simply says kill them all – anyone, on any day – kill them all.
In 1872 our Territorial Legislature found the liquidation of buffalo shameful. Today, that conservation ethic and the dedication to our Tribal neighbors apparently has vanished. Exactly a century ago the 1913 Montana State Legislature gave overwhelming approval to the quest for a better way, a more profound relationship with Montana wildlife.  It would be shameful indeed to observe the centennial of the 1913 commitment to conservation with legislation of liquidation – Senate Bill 143.  We need to listen to and heed the counsel of our forefathers.  We need to demand a resounding no vote on Senate Bill 143.

If passed, this bill would eliminate the Yellowstone Bison hunt, eliminate game animal status for bison, keep tribes from growing their own bison herds and continue to wasteful and tragic slaughter of America’s grandest land mammal.

Contact the Senate Fish and Game Committee and tell them that we will not stand for this:

Brad Hamlett

Debby Barrett

Fred Thomas

Jennifer Fielder

Jim Peterson   

John Brenden 

Kendall Van Dyke

Larry Jent

Rick Ripley

Tom Facey

[1] Brownell, Joan Louise.  The Genesis of Wildlife Conservation in Montana. Master of Science Thesis, Montana State University. May 1987.
[2] Ibid.
[3] A Bill for an Act entitled: “An Act to establish a game preserve in the Rocky Mountains, for the Protection of Game Animals and Birds, and Providing a Penalty for Killing, Hunting or Pursuing any such Animals in such Preserve  Senate Journal 13th Session, 1913, Montana.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Tools of the Trade

As we head into week two of the Montana Legislature, we’re already knee deep in the hoopla. Last week we saw that the tone and tenor of this session (at least in the House) will be different than the last session. That’s good news for Montana’s hunters and anglers. The bad news is that we still have 130 bills that deal directly with your hunting opportunity, wildlife management and your ability to access public lands and waters.

If you are one of the thousands of Montanans who view interaction with the Legislature as a tedious, time consuming chore that you have to engage in just to protect your current sporting opportunity, then god bless you. If you’re just getting involved, there are some ground rules that will help you be an effective advocate for wildlife and for hunters and anglers.

1.)    Always be polite and courteous. You may strongly disagree with a bill and the motivations behind a legislator introducing it, but it’s important to remember what your momma taught you: It’s easier to catch flies with honey, not vinegar.

2.)    Be direct, succinct and relevant. It may seem like common sense, but a lot of times when folks go to testify on a bill, they start to relate their world view rather than simply state that you are for or against a bill, and a few reasons why. Legislators have a lot to deal with, and while your points are surely the ones that will ensure passage or defeat of the bill, you have to remember that there is a line of other folks wanting to speak as well as a committee full of folks with questions about the bill.

3.)    Be prepared. You might get asked some tough questions by legislators. They’re not trying to mean (well, most of them), they just have a lot of information to sort through before they make a decision on how to vote on any particular bill. If you do not know the answer to that question, simply say “ I do not know, but I will find that out and get back to you.”

4.)    Get back to them! If you tell someone you will provide information, it is vital that you do so. Not just because your information will tip the scales in your favor, but because you gave your word to someone. That kind of follow through will set you apart from every other Johnny Testifier who talks a lot, but never delivers the goods.

5.)    Be honest. It’s your word against the guys who you want to vanquish. If you tell a lie, you lose all credibility with Legislators. Honesty is always the best policy. This is probably the simplest tool you have, but can often be the most difficult one to wield.

6.)    Bring your friends. Volume of testimony can affect the outcome of a bill. In 2011, 450 of our closest friends showed up to rally against HB 309, the Ditch Bill. The bill was on a freight train to passing even with a ton of opposition by Montana’s hunters and anglers. Not until folks showed up in buses were we able to stop the bill in its tracks. You don’t have to rent a bus, but it is critical to bring a friend or three, or recruit your hunting buddies to write emails or make phone calls.

7.)    Always use an elected officials title when addressing them. I don’t care if you think that person won their election on the back of a stolen mule. They have the right to be addressed with respect. Every committee chairman should always be addressed as Mr. Chairman, and every representative and senator needs to be given the respect that the office deserves.

8.)    The Website is your friend. Leg.MT.Gov is the website that you will need to learn how to navigate during the session to find out when bills are coming up, what bills are introduced and what committee they are going to. You can keep track of what the House Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee and the Senate Fish and Game Committee are up to by following the links.  You can also contact legislators through the website and send emails to entire committees. We’ll cover more on this on another post this week. 

I’ve lobbied for 10 years; 8 sessions to be exact. There is no group of people more dedicated to the sound, scientific management of our wildlife and public lands than those of us with our hands in the gutpile. This session looks to be a little less contentious than the last one, but it will require all of us pulling together to ensure that our access, opportunity and the North American Model are kept whole.
We’re just at the start of the 2013 Legislative session. Let’s make sure that we have a fruitful one. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Year of the Griz

by Eric Graham
A BIG thank you to Missoula based Hellgate Hunters and Anglers for their $2,000 contribution of matching financial support toward bear management within Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) Region 2 (R2).  The funding provided seasonal technical support to James Jonkel, R2 bear management specialist, and helped fund a variety of tasks such as research trapping, responding to bear complaints and maintaining grizzly bear, black bear and bear conflict response data.  Highlights of the 2012 season include trapping two trend study grizzly bears, the collection of opportunistic grizzly bear hair samples for DNA analysis, continuing the carcass pick-up program to reduce human-bear conflicts, working with Felstet Disposal to develop bear-resistant garbage containers and promoting the “bear aware” concept through information and education outreach.
Information on both population size and trend are necessary to manage the grizzly bear population in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem (NCDE).  Radio collared grizzly bears provide survival and reproductive data.  For example, the trapping and collaring of 25 female grizzlies throughout the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem for 4 years provides 100 “bear years” of data that makes it possible to estimate population size and trend.  Estimates show that grizzly populations in the NCDE have been growing at a rate of 3% per year.  Using population numbers from a 2004 study conducted by USGS, MFWP estimates the current NCDE grizzly population to be approximately 1000. Given this successful population growth rate, the US Fish and Wildlife service is working toward delisting the threatened grizzly bear status by 2015 in the NCDE recovery zone.
This spring the MT FWP R-2 bear management specialists trapped and radio collared female grizzly bears for the continuation of the NCDE grizzly bear population and trend monitoring project .  Two sub-adult female bears were caught in the Blackfoot Valley and were thought to be siblings that were sighted on various occasions throughout 2011.  They were traveling with an adult female and one other sibling as a family group; DNA results from the captures will provide more information. The grizzly bear family group was photographed on a motion camera and was observed during an aerial flight survey. Both locations were northwest of Ovando, MT.

When a research grizzly bear is trapped in a culvert trap and confirmed as the target species, the weight of the bear is estimated for the correct drug dosage during immobilization.  Once the bear is immobilized, the handlers remove the bear from the trap and begin to monitor the temperature, pulse, and respiration of the bear while oxygen is administered.  Handlers look for ear tags, tattoos on the inner lips and scan for a pit tag to see if the bear has been previously captured.   A metal detector is used to see if there are any bullets in the bear and the bear is accurately weighed.  A BIA is conducted to measure the fat content of the bear and general observations are made as to the health of the bear as well as confirmation of the sex.  If the bear has not been previously handled, a tattoo is placed on the inside of the lip, a pit tag is inserted behind the ear, and an ear tag is placed in an ear for identification purposes.  A radio collar is then secured around the neck of the bear.  Body measurements are taken, blood is drawn and hair samples are taken for DNA research.  For safety purposes during the handling the bear is secured to a tree with a snare.  Once the handling is complete the bear is then placed back in the culvert trap and monitored until the immobilization drugs have worn off.  When the bear is fully recovered the bear is then released on site from the safety of the truck.  The location of the bear can then be monitored throughout the season by researchers.
Throughout the 2012 season opportunistic hair samples were gathered from a variety of bear rub objects in MFWP R2.  Bears naturally rub against objects such as trees, power poles, and fence poles, leavingbehind hair samples.  By creating a detailed NCDE genetic database from these hair samples, bear managers can better understand grizzly bear movement throughout MFWP R-2.During an early April track survey a large set of grizzly tracks were cut and followed to a barbed wire fence where the bear crossed.  Luckily a hair sample was caught in a barb and collected for DNA analysis.  A motion camera was set up in the area and a photo of the bear was captured a couple days later.
The carcass pick-up and removal program has been successful at reducing human-bear conflicts throughout MFWP R2.  Ranchers and landowners are urged to call the local bear manager to arrange for pick-up and removal of livestock carcasses, which have proven to reduce human-bear conflicts.  In the Blackfoot Valley a compost site accommodates livestock and wildlife carcasses inside of a bear resistant electric fence.
There is continued work with Don Felstet and Felstet Disposal to develop bear resistant garbage containers that are being placed throughout the lower Clark Fork River region.  Previous work included creating a fully automated 300 gallon bear resistant container that has been approved by the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee (IGBC) testing protocol at the Discovery Center in West Yellowstone.  This season we continued working on a 95-gallon container that has been through testing and is back at the shop for some changes. There are plans for it to be re-tested in the spring of 2013.
One of the most important aspects of bear management work is the continued promotion of bear aware information and education.  Throughout the 2012 season multiple bear aware presentations were held for a wide variety of audiences including the Montana Conservation Corps, Missoula Smokejumpers, the Bureau of Land Management, and multiple school classrooms throughout R2.  An educational table with a variety of informational brochures was provided for the annual Hellgate Hunters and Anglers banquet. 
Hanging educational signs is another component of the pro-active bear management process.  Some of the signs help hunters know the difference between black and grizzly bears or for safety concerns others may indicate that there is a bear management trapping effort in the area.  In some neighborhoods and campgrounds educational signs are a reminder to keep attractants away from bears to help reduce human-bear conflicts.
The Author
Once again, a BIG thanks to Hellgate Hunters and Anglers for their support of bear management in MFWP R2. Research trapping, responding to bear complaints and maintaining grizzly bear, black bear and bear conflict response data is vital to a healthy population of grizzly bears in R2. Without their support, this vital work would not have been possible.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Got Sheep?

It’s time to make the sausage. The Montana Legislature began January 7th. There are 122 bill draft requests in the hopper and 18 bills introduced.

Wolves will pre-occupy a lot of our time over the next four months, as will access, bison, guns, and a host of bills whose sole intent is to try the patience of wildlife and sportsmen advocates. We’re going in to this session in a different place than 2011.

Governor Bullock took the oath of office yesterday along with every other elected official. With that oath comes the return of Jeff Hagener to the Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks. There are three commission appointments open right now. Governor Bullock has a plethora of opportunities to leave his mark on the department early in his administration. So far, he’s been a leveling influence in a heated and controversial series of debates. The appointment of Hagener has been praised by Livestock interests, Hunting organizations and Legislators.

We head into this session with a lot of the same old issues coming back: Elk Archery continues to be a fight, along with transferable tags for landowners. HB 161,  proposed bill by Representative Ted Washburn would increase the number of non-resident licenses by 13,000. We don’t agree that 7,000 licenses should be designated for wilderness areas only, and that they go to Non-Residents. It’s a bad bill. The trend of increasing non-resident opportunity over the opportunity of Resident hunters and anglers is critical in establishing the privatization of wildlife.

The first week of the Session will see wolves and bighorn sheep come up. HB 73 is the FWP bill that would grant the commission authority to issue multiple wolf tags, eliminate the requirement for hunter orange after the general big game season, allow for electronic calls and reduce the cost of non-resident licenses to $50. This bill should pass. It contains some measures such as electronic calling that we do not endorse, but overall the bill is good, and should pass quickly through both houses. 

Also on Thursday is HB 31. This bill has many of the same components that HB 73 does, but goes too far. It causes a cap to be placed on wolf populations, which will lead to more litigation and the relisting of wolves. Any time we change the approved wolf management plan or current laws related to wolf management, we trigger a review, and we trigger potential litigation. HB 73 however, would cause both the anti-wolf crowd and the wolf lover crowd to simultaneously litigate the state, further ensuring no wolf gets managed ever.

Got Bighorn sheep? Maybe not.  Senate Bill 83 involves additional rules regarding transplanting of bighorn sheep and will be heard by the Senate Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee at the same time the two wolf bills are being heard in the House Fish, Wildlife and Parks Committee. This bill will virtually eliminate any real opportunities to transplant bighorn sheep on any of their historic range in Montana if there is a chance that they could interact with agricultural operations, or augment existing sheep herds.  This bill would further tighten measures that already make it extremely difficult to reintroduce wild sheep in Montana.  It should be actively opposed by sportsmen and women.

We’re well on our way to that this session. Many other bills will come forward to restrict our stream access, eliminate funding for Access programs like Habitat Montana and to hand our public resource, wildlife, over to private hands.

It’s time to saddle up and get the Rough Riders ready to go. If you haven’t signed up for Hellgate’s action alerts, you still can:

We’ll be blogging and updating all session long. Facebook is a valuable tool when it comes to getting the word out, so we’ll be posting regularly to facebook and twitter when things happen in Helena.
Here we go. Friend of the Pulpit, Randy Newberg, has posted a helpful tool that will help all hunters and anglers contact their representatives and senators, as well as the contact information for all House and Senate Fish and Game Committee members:

Book mark it. 

Here we go folks. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Sportsmen’s Priorities for 2013

Land Tawney

This past year hunters and anglers enjoyed the spotlight in congress; something we rarely realize.  The Sportsmen Act of 2012 became a political football and didn’t come to fruition.  While I enjoy the fact that our issues were front and center, ultimately we didn’t get it done.  It’s time to capitalize on the attention and double down on our efforts.  Together, we can protect our heritage for our children’s future.  Just think if we could get it all done….

<·         Passage of the Sportsmen Act.  This bill is a combination of 19 bills making it the largest sportsmen package in a lifetime.  Some political shenanigans kept it from passage in 2012. Hunting and fishing, and for that matter conservation, are bi-partisan, let’s get it done!

<·         Restoration of the Gulf of Mexico.  It’s almost been a 1000 days since the BP oil spill.  Recently BP settled on the criminal lawsuit for 4.5 billion of which much of that money will go for restoration.  It’s time for BP to settle on the Clean Water Act Penalties that they owe ranging from $15-20 billion.  The Department of Justice must hold BP accountable and restore Sportsman’s Paradise.

<·         Full Funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).  LWCF is the only consistent fund for land protection and access in the nation.  Right here in my home state of Montana I think of the Blackfoot Valley that is home to the famous Blackfoot River that wouldn’t be the same without funding through LWCF or the 70% of fishing access sites across the state that are fully or partially paid for by LWCF.  The kicker is the Fund was established back in the 60’s using off shore oil revenue.  But it has only realizes its full funding of $900 million once.  Conservation is a money generator!  

<·         National Sodsaver and Conservation Compliance.  Over 95% of our nation’s native sod has been converted.  What’s left hasn’t been busted up because it just doesn’t produce.  But markets are driving farmers to bust the remaining native sod essential to wildlife.  Sodsaver is simple, farmers are free to break it up but they won’t get crop insurance when they do.  Conservation Compliance takes this same route.  We need this provision in the next Farm Bill!

<·         Passage of an Omnibus Public Lands Bill.  Back in 2009 Congress came together in bi-partisan fashion to pass a public lands bill with designations of national battlefields to new wilderness areas.  It’s time for Congress to come together again.  Right here in Montana we have two home grown public land proposals in the Forest Job and Recreation Act and Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act.

<·         National Flood Insurance Reform.  The Mississippi River, Red River, and countless others flood every year putting stress on our nation’s pocket book as we dole out disaster payments and reconstruction costs.  Over a century of trying to control mother-nature hasn’t worked.  Let’s apply some common sense to Flood Insurance.  If you want to build in a flood plain…go ahead but you won’t get Flood Insurance.  Pretty simple really.  This will ultimately help restore riparian areas that coincide with our waterways, the lifeline for wildlife corridors. 

<·         Restoration of Free Roaming Bison.  One of the biggest tragedies of our time is the extirpation of bison from the prairies.  Bison are the only large game species we haven’t restored back to robust populations.  From pronghorn antelope and elk to wolves and grizzly bears it’s quite a remarkable comeback story.  We have a responsibility and a place to do it, the 1.1 million acre Charles M. National Wildlife Refuge in North Central Montana.

<·         Protect Bristol Bay.  As proposed, the Pebble Mine project would be the largest open pit mine in the world requiring the largest containment pond held back by the largest earthen dam, 700 ft tall.  All of this at the headwaters of Bristol Bay in Alaska which supports one of the last remaining strongholds for spawning salmon and a $500 million annual boost to the economy.  Further, the proposed mine site is located in one of the most active seismic areas in Alaska, and that’s saying a lot.  Nobody is asking for an end to mining…but let’s not do it here.  Some places are just too important to our outdoor heritage and must be protected. 

<·         Expand Conservation Funding Revenue.  A unique and productive partnership between hunters, anglers, elements of the outdoor recreation industry, and state and federal agencies has sustained fish and wildlife management in the United States for the past 75 years. The circumstances under which that model evolved are changing and conservation focus is expanding to include species diversity. At the same time, outdoor recreation options and interests are expanding to new and diverse wildlife and nature experiences that generate no reciprocal revenue. As a result, state and federal agencies are feeling a fiscal pinch as demands for alternative wildlife experiences increase and revenues from traditional sources stay static, though we did enjoy an increase in hunters and anglers this past cycle. Finding an answer to this fiscal challenge will determine how we move forward to resolve the seminal issue facing fish and wildlife managers in both public and private spheres of conservation. Hunters and anglers have paid the way for conservation for years, other user groups must now step up and pay their way.

<·         Climate Change.   Climate change is happening whether you believe it is human caused or not, impacting cold water fisheries, waterfowl migration, ice fishing, big game migration, etc.  All of the conservation efforts we have been engaged in will be for not if we don’t address this issue.  Many of the policies mentioned above will ultimately help wildlife survive a climate change by adding resilience but we must address carbon pollution to ultimately address the problem.