Free Prairie Stream Restoration Workshop and Field Day offered May 6 in Winifred

By North-Central/Eastern Montana Field Coordinator Morgan Marks.

Learn about prairie stream restoration and how it can improve drought-resilience, forage, and wildlife habitats on rangelands during a free workshop on Saturday, May 6, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Winifred Town Hall and Museum, 210 Main Street, in Fergus County, Montana.

The Montana Wildlife Federation; Bureau of Land Management, Montana-Dakotas; and the National Wildlife Federation, Northern Rockies and Prairies; will host the one-day workshop, which includes lunch and a field trip to see a nearby recently completed restoration project.

“Landowners, farmers, ranchers and even the general public who want to learn more about stream restoration are welcome to attend,” said Morgan Marks, north-central field representative for the Montana Wildlife Federation. “Keeping water on the land for longer can support range health and increase forage availability over time thus helping to mitigate impacts of drought. Low-technology practices use materials already on the landscape to restore riparian areas and can be a cost-effective method to achieve lasting results.”

The workshop will feature several organizations, landowners, and agencies presenting project stories, resources, and other information that can support the implementation of prairie stream restoration projects.

Participating organizations include Winnett ACES, Montana Freshwater Partners, Northern Great Plains Joint Venture, National Resources Conservation Service, World Wildlife Fund, Pheasants Forever, Montana Conservation Corps, One Montana, and Montana Audubon.

To register, or if you have questions, please email Morgan Marks at, or call her at 406-403-4464. Please, register to attend by Monday, May 1, so event planners can make sure there will be enough lunch for all attendees.


You’re invited to attend our day-long public wildlife conference

By Montana Wildlife Federation President and Board Chair, Dr. Chris Servheen.

It seems like it’s been a long winter, but spring is in the air. The sun feels warmer every day. Did you know there is a special word to describe the warmth of the winter sun especially as spring approaches? That word is apricity, which means the warmth of the sun in winter. The birds around my house are singing in the snow and the local marsh is frozen and snowy but the red-winged blackbirds are back, and they act like it is 70 degrees as they sing perched over the ice every morning. 

MWF has been busy with the legislature and working hard to build bipartisan support for conservation programs on habitat, elk management and predator legislation. It is the halfway mark of the legislature as I write this. We have seen some successes and some problems. Habitat Montana funding is still under threat even though the voters overwhelmingly supported taxing marijuana sales to fund this very beneficial program. We will keep pushing and hope for the best by the end of the session. 

MWF is planning a day-long public conference on April 15 in Helena at the Best Western Premier Hotel with presentations on key wildlife issues in Montana. We will have presentations on lessons from Yellowstone for wolf management In Montana, an update on avian flu in Montana, the importance of instream flow to maintain our cold-water fisheries, beaver conservation and management in Montana, and the path forward for grizzly bears. We will also host a one-hour panel discussion by legislators on the 2023 legislative session with discussions on important bills passed by the legislature that impact elk hunting, habitat conservation, Habitat Montana, predator management, and access issues. This legislator panel discussion will include an opportunity for questions from the audience. 

This conference on Saturday starts at 9 a.m. and is open and free to the public so please plan to attend. The day will conclude at 4 p.m. with the 2023 MWF awards. There will be awards presented to the MWF affiliate of the year, the 2023 outstanding conservation leader, a special achievement award for landowner/sportsman relations, two agency employee conservation awards, the Les Pengelly Award for conservation excellence, and the unsung hero award. We really encourage everyone to attend to recognize these Montana conservation leaders.

Hopefully, spring will arrive soon, and we can start putting away our skis, getting our boats ready for the season, and dusting off our backpacking and fly-fishing gear as the weather warms. I hope to see you at the MWF wildlife conference on April 15 in Helena. Watch the livestream HERE.


From Field to Freezer: A Deer Processing Workshop

By MWF North-Central Field Representative Morgan Marks.

Hosted and instructed by Katie Vivian, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Region 4 Fisheries Biologist and her husband, with instructional support from Ashley Hammans, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Giant Springs Hatchery Culturist.

Katie Vivian works with two women as they practice how to skin a deer. Photo by Cameron Evans.

On a beautiful Sunday in late November, 10 women gathered together outside Great Falls to build their skills and learn about butchering and processing deer. Through scheming and conversations shared between Katie Vivian, Montana Fish Wildlife and Parks Region 4 Fisheries Biologist, and Morgan Marks, Field Representative with Montana Wildlife Federation, the idea for an all-women’s butchering workshop took shape over the summer and early fall and came to fruition as the general rifle hunting season neared completion.

Morgan Marks, MWF Field Representative, learns how to skin a deer in a field scenario with the deer on the ground. Photo by Cameron Evans.

Women who attended were avid hunters and others had not hunted before nor harvested game, but shared that they attended out of curiosity and a desire to learn more about butchering wild game. One participant was 12 years old, and organizers were ecstatic about reaching youth with these important and traditional skill sets. Women traveled from across Montana to participate and grow their skills, including from Helena, Missoula, Great Falls, and Bozeman.

Cameron Evans places the front quarter of a deer into a game bag. Photo by Hannah Schultz.
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Pictured is Katie Vivian teaching a participant how to skin and cut through the joint on a front quarter. Photo taken by Cameron Evans.
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Cameron Evans learns how to remove the hide from a deer.

Katie led the workshop and shared skills she learned independently through experiences hunting and harvesting wild game. She is self taught and hell-bent on teaching others, especially women, because she believes that every person can butcher wild game. “While the practice of butchering takes time, it’s rewarding to break down an animal you harvested,” she said, “and learn from it. For example, you can see how accurate your shot was and better understand how to make adjustments in the future.”

Left and Right Picture: Women learn how to skin a hanging deer. Photos taken by Cameron Evans.

In the days leading up to the workshop, two whitetail doe were generously harvested by Katie and her husband, and donated to the workshop for women to learn from. Topics included the following: 

  • Experiential learning
  • Safety around butchering wild game, especially with sharp knives and mindfulness about butchering with more than one person
  • Field dressing and the Gutless Method
  • Skinning animals taken out whole and skinning in the field
  • Quartering and deboning
  • Meat care and preparation in regard to temperature, place, freezing, labeling and materials needed for every step of the butchering process
  • Anatomy of deer and what parts of a deer are best for what cuts of meat
  • Awareness of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) and guidance around CWD positive wild game
  • Trimming and packaging meat into freezer ready products 


Left and Right Picture: Katie Vivian supports a young woman as she learns how to skin a deer that’s hanging. Pictures taken by Cameron Evans.

Stay tuned for more workshops in 2023 pertaining to skill building, leadership development, and advocacy! If there’s a specific topic you’re interested in, have questions about, and want to learn about, please contact MWF North-Central Field Representative Morgan Marks at

The goals of these women-focused events are three-fold: to increase women’s access and participation in outdoor recreation; give women the tools, skills and confidence to continue to build upon skills learned in a safe and welcoming space; and increase women’s involvement and representation in conservation. Studies have shown that creating a space for women in hunting and fishing not only helps them access the sport, but also keeps them involved in the sport over time. That’s the goal of women focused events, to continue creating spaces where women can learn, gather, network, have fun, and grow. 

Lastly, our community is an inclusive one. We welcome all womxn and gender non-conforming folks to this event and other women-focused events. If you identify yourself as a woman, no matter the complexity, we welcome you.

The clinic aimed to not only teach women how to butcher their harvests, but also to foster community and friendships among women. With similar goals, MWF and Artemis Sportswomen hosted the 2nd Annual Women’s Ice Fishing Clinic in February. Read all about that event HERE.

Thank you to North 40 Outfitters for donating two sets of knives that we were able to send home with two women who drew them from a raffle.

Many thanks to North40 for their generosity in donating two sets of knives! Two women were able to go home with a new knife set to put their skills to work this hunting season and they were thrilled. We have much gratitude for North40 continuing to support women-led and women-focused skill development events such as this.

The below photos were taken by Cameron Evans and show the indoor portion of the workshop. Deer meat was trimmed from bones and placed into containers for grinding, stew, steak, and disposal. Fat was saved to be made later into tallow soap. Processed meat was packaged with freezer paper and vacuum sealed bags. If you’re familiar with cuts of meat and butchering wild game, you’ll be able to identify specific cuts of meat, such as the beautiful and prized backstrap depicted in a few photos.


Values of the Breaks: Celebrating One of Montana’s Most Cherished Landscapes

Designated on January 17th, 2001 by President Clinton, the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument is a place revered by hunters, anglers, and recreationists alike. On the 22nd anniversary of the designation, the Montana Wildlife Federation has released a new video documenting the value of the special landscape.

Featuring diverse viewpoints including a local farmer and rancher, a small business owner and a hunter, the video explores how the national monument designation has enhanced the landscape, increased access, improved ranching, hunting, and outdoor recreation opportunities in the Upper Missouri River Breaks.

Originally deployed by conservation champion, President Teddy Roosevelt, The Antiquities Act has been used by presidents of both parties as a bipartisan tool for protecting precious American landscapes. A recent University of Montana poll showed strong bipartisan support among Montana voters for the use of the Antiquities Act in preserving our public lands.

“Montana’s national monuments are a cornerstone of our outdoor way of life,” said Frank Szollosi, Montana Wildlife Federation executive director. “On the anniversary of the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument designation, it’s worth pausing to recognize and celebrate what a great tool the Antiquities Act has been for protecting Montana’s special places for future generations.”

Rick Anderson, a local farmer and rancher says the national monument designation has been integral to his operation.

“The Breaks are important to me because this is where I’ve lived my whole life,” Anderson said. “It’s the backbone of our farm and ranch. Without the river, our ranch would have no water. Prior to the designation, we had more trespass problems. Because of the monument, people are better informed.”

Small business owner, Haley Miller of Upper Missouri River Guides, is also featured in the film explaining how the national monument designation for the area is crucial to her business and way of life.

“The Missouri Breaks is an amazing landscape because of everything it has to offer: hunting, wildlife viewing, recreation,” Miller said. “The hiking is incredible, it’s a very family-friendly adventure. Whether you are a rancher, a canoer, a hunter, we can all only benefit from making sure this landscape only gets healthier. What makes it so important to us is that it’s public lands.”

Garrett Titus, Helena bird hunter, noted how Montana’s rapid population growth adds to the urgency of protecting places like the Upper Missouri River Breaks.

“Once our public lands are gone, they don’t come back,” Titus said. “Montana is growing extremely fast. We need to find a way to identify and protect places like the Missouri River Breaks because it allows us to experience wide open spaces and we need that and our future generations need that.”

Montana Wildlife Federation Comments on Montana Statewide Grizzly Bear Management Plan

The Montana Wildlife Federation (MWF) values Montana’s grizzly bears as a unique and valuable resource, and we are dedicated to assuring that grizzly bears remain healthy and well-distributed in Montana. MWF has long supported conservation and management actions that would lead to healthy and robust grizzly bear populations and the delisting of the grizzly bear, a return of grizzly bear management to the state, and the potential of limited fair chase hunting. Unfortunately, MWF believes that the draft FWP grizzly bear management plan does not adequately address the issues facing Montana’s grizzly bear populations and submitted detailed written comments addressing our concerns in a letter that can be viewed HERE.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks is extending the public comment deadline on the draft grizzly bear management plan and associated draft environmental impact statement (EIS) to Feb. 4. The purpose of the draft plan and draft EIS is to guide the long-term management and conservation of grizzly bears across the state.
The new plan would replace two existing plans – those for western Montana and for southwest Montana. The statewide plan will serve as a framework for the management of grizzly bears now and into the future. The draft plan will guide management statewide, with particular focus on areas with documented grizzly bear presence, as well as in those places where they are expected to expand. The draft plan addresses how bears will be managed outside of federal recovery zones, including connectivity areas between the zones. The draft EIS addresses potential environmental impacts of implementing the plan.
To review the plan and comment, go online to To comment by mail, send to Wildlife Division, Grizzly Bear Plan and EIS, P.O. Box 200701, Helena, MT 59620. Comments can also be emailed to
If you’d like support with writing a comment and your messaging, please contact North-Central/Eastern Montana Field Coordinator Morgan Marks at

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Jeff Lukas – MWF Elk Campaign Manager

Jeff Lukas

Elk Campaign Manager

Jeff Lukas is a passionate conservationist who has been fishing and hunting his entire life. Whether it’s floating a small stream chasing trout, pursuing elk in the high country, or waiting in a blind for ducks to set their wings, Jeff is always trying to bring more people afield to show them what we are trying to protect. He loves being in the arena, and he will never shy away from conversations about the beautiful and unique corners of Big Sky country.