Montana Wildlife Federation Opposes Anti-predator Hysteria in the Legislature

In a regressive approach to the dark ages of wildlife management, the Montana Senate this week passed bills that will allow hunters and trappers to kill unlimited numbers of wolves on a single license, hunt wolves at night with spotlights, use neck snares, and bait wolves to traps. On top of all this, the Senate passed a bill that will allow wolf hunters and trappers to be paid for the presentation of dead wolves, which is a bounty on the species.

The Montana Wildlife Federation, our state’s oldest and largest state-based wildlife conservation and sporting organization, said these measures do not align with Montana’s decades-long history as a leader in conservation and management of wildlife.

“Collectively these bills represent an all-out fervor against grey wolves, both black and grizzly bears and mountain lions,” said Chris Servheen, MWF vice president of issues. “Montana has successfully managed predators for years, and included scientifically sound hunting, but now we’re clearly regressing back into the dark ages by waging aggressive, unethical campaigns against these native wildlife species.”

The Legislature is also considering bills to extend the wolf leg-hold trapping and neck snaring season into the time when bears are out of their dens. This will result in black and grizzly bears being strangled or maimed in wolf snares. Another bill under consideration would allow hound hunting of black bears in the spring followed by a recreational hound chase season. Since grizzly bears can be found anywhere in western Montana, this hound bill will result in grizzly bears being chased by hounds. The likely result will be dead grizzly bears as hound hunters defend their dogs from grizzlies. Hound hunting for bears has been outlawed in Montana since 1921.

Incredibly, the new leadership of FWP under Gov. Gianforte endorsed a bill that would prevent relocation of any grizzly bear in any type of conflict outside the recovery zones. This is contrary to 40 years of Montana grizzly management policy, contrary to the Interagency Grizzly Bear Committee guidelines, and would dramatically increase the number of dead grizzly bears in Montana. There is another bill that would allow anyone to kill any grizzly that they thought was “threatening livestock,” which would essentially allow anyone to kill a grizzly bear just for being in the general vicinity of livestock. Both of these grizzly bills would prevent future delisting of grizzly bears in Montana because of the removal of FWP’s ability to limit the number of grizzly mortalities.

Montana has long been known throughout the West for being a leader in science-based wildlife management and fair chase hunting. With these and other bad laws, the Legislature is rejecting science and sound wildlife management policy and replacing them with anti-predator hysteria driven by emotional hatred of predators.

There is little need to “save” game animals from predators since Montana has abundant big game herds in most of the state. In fact, Montana hunters can currently kill up to three elk per year, and the legislature is considering bills to further liberalize regulations in order to kill more elk.

The Montana Wildlife Federation opposes this anti-predator approach to wildlife management. We also strongly oppose departing from fair chase hunting practices by spotlighting animals at night and chasing bears with hounds. The native wildlife of Montana is too important to allow extreme killing measures like these.

Stand up for Habitat Montana

Habitat Montana is our best conservation and access program that benefits landowners, wildlife and public hunters. It protects working farms and ranches with conservation easements that open up thousands of acres of land to public hunting and recreation. 

Now SB 115, sponsored by Sen. Keith Regier, R-Kalispell, would add a layer of government bureaucracy into ranchers’ decision on their private property by requiring state Land Board approval for conservation easements under Habitat Montana. This can kill projects that have taken two years to work out with extensive planning, including for public hunting access. 

Contact members of the Senate Fish and Game Committee and tell them to vote NO on SB 115. Tell them to support landowners’ private property rights, our farming and ranching economy and hunters’ access through the Habitat Montana program. 

PLEASE WRITE YOUR OWN MESSAGE, but hit these points: 

Habitat Montana benefits working farmers and ranchers with working capital to expand their operations, and they have private property rights to do what they want with their land. 

This program improves relations between hunters and landowners, opens up access for hunters, and benefits wildlife management. 

Habitat Montana is working better than it ever has, and there’s no need to add a layer of government bureaucracy to complete good projects that have taken years to work out. 

Please vote no on SB 115 and support Montana’s landowners and hunters. 

Call and leave a message for the Senate Fish and Game Committee at 406-444-4800.

Contact the Senate Fish and Game Committee HERE.

  • Fill out the form provided.
  • Select Committees
  • Select (S) Fish and Game
  • Select Bill Type (SB) and Bill Number 115
  • Select Against 
  • Provide your message

MWF 2021 Legislative Leadership Guide

A full list of legislators and relevant committees is available by clicking here. 

Officers of Senate 

  • President: Mark Blasdel, R-Kalispell
  • President Pro Tempore: Jason Ellsworth, R-Hamilton
  • Majority Leader: Cary Smith, R-Billings
  • Majority Whips: Doug Kary, R-Billings; Steve Fitzpatrick, R-Great Falls; Gordy Vance, R-Belgrade
  • Minority Leader: Jill Cohenour, D-Helena
  • Minority Whips: JP Pomnichowski, D-Bozeman; Pat Flowers, D-Bozeman; Diane Sands, D-Missoula

Officers of the House of Representatives 

  • Speaker: Wylie Galt, R-Martinsdale
  • Speaker Pro Tempore: Casey Knudsen, R-Malta
  • Majority Leader: Sue Vinton, R-Billings
  • Majority Whips: Seth Berglee, R-Joliet; Dennis Lenz, R-Billings; Lola Sheldon-Galloway, R-Great Falls; Derek Skees, R-Kalispell
  • Minority Leader: Kim Abbot, D-Helena
  • Minority Caucus Chair: Marilyn Marler, D-Missoula
  • Minority Whips: Tyson Running Wolf, D-Browning; Laurie Bishop, D-Livingston; Derek Harvey, D-Butte

Who is your legislator?
If you do not know who your legislators are, you can search by your address at: https://www.leg.mt.gov/map/
 

How to Lobby the 2021 Montana Legislature

Important Resources

Legislative Services web site: http://leg.mt.gov/

Leave a Message for Legislators and Committees: 

Phone messages: (406) 444-4800 from 7:30 am and 5 pm

Website messages: https://leg.mt.gov/web-messaging/

Governor’s Telephone: (406) 444-3111 or via the web at governor.mt.gov/contact

The Montana Wildlife Federation’s Bill Tracker: https://montanawildlife.org/news/capitol-report-2021-bills-and-budgets/

MWF’s website provides the following useful information:

How to Lobby During a Pandemic

 

BE SAFE! Live to fight another day. Don’t enter the Capitol if you don’t have to. Some legislators will gather in the Capitol but others will participate remotely. That means you can also participate in legislative hearings from the comfort of your own home.

First, know what’s going on:

  1. Visit MWF’s website at to follow the bills and issues in which you are most interested. Each high priority bill will have a description and link to help you learn more about how you can help.  
  2. Join MWF’s weekly Legislative Action Team ZOOM meetings every Monday at 7 p.m. to learn what’s going on, how you can be involved, and to ask questions. You can participate using a telephone or a computer. 
  3. Keep up-to-date by joining MWF’s email list so you can get alerts and our regular updates, as well as action alerts when we really need a large voice to speak up. 



Second, know how to testify remotely: 

  1. If you want to testify remotely you must register on the legislative services website by 12 pm (noon) the day before the hearing. You can register to testify here: https://leg.mt.gov/public-testimony/ When you register you must fill in the box regarding written testimony. You can include written testimony or attachments when you register but you do not have to do so even though you do have to put something in that box for written testimony. Instead, you can write in the box that you have no written testimony. 
  2. The registration form allows you to say whether you want to testify via phone or computer. If you register to testify via computer the committee will not see your video feed only your name and Zoom profile photo if you have one. If you want to add a photo to your Zoom account so that legislators can see you (it adds a personal touch to an impersonal online format), login to your Zoom account on the web, click “Profile” and add a photo by clicking “change” and then upload the photo you want to use. 
  3. After you register you will receive a receipt via email. This only confirms your registration. The day of the hearing you will receive the Zoom link or phone number for the hearing. 
  4. The day of the hearing, click on the link that was e-mailed to you that day (if you do not receive the email, check your spam folder). 
  5. During the hearing they will ask for proponents of the bill followed by opponents. You will need to click on the “raise your hand” function at the bottom of the screen when they call for proponents or opponents. To raise your hand on the phone hit *9. 
  6. When the hearing administrator calls on you to testify, you must unmute yourself. To unmute on Zoom, click the microphone button on the lower left of the screen so the red line through the microphone image disappears. On the phone you can unmute yourself by dialing *6.
  7. When you testify always address your comments to the Chair and the Committee, followed by your name, how to spell your name, and where you are from. For example, start your testimony by saying, “Mr./Madame Chair, members of the committee, my name is —-, that is spelled —. I am from —.” 
  8. When testifying try to limit your comments to 3 minutes (about one typed page double-sided). Try not to repeat what others have said. Use personal stories whenever possible
  9. After you testify, stay until the hearing is over in case a committee member has a question for you. If you get asked a question always respond by addressing the committee Chair first followed by the Mr. committee member who asked the question (i.e., “Mr. Chair, Senator —, thank you for your question”). 

Contacting legislators before or after a hearing:

You can contact legislators through the legislative services phone number and email at the top of this page or you can use the legislature’s website to find their direct e-mail and phone number. You can also send them your comments in writing to:

  • Montana Senate, P.O. Box 200500, Helena, MT 59620, or 
  • Montana House of Representatives, P.O. Box 200400, Helena, MT 59620

When You Call to a Legislator

  • Have a script of what you would like to say. You are likely to get their voicemail. Please be respectful and keep your message short
  • If you talk to a legislator or they call back, address them as Senator or Representative
  • Say your name and where you are from
  • Provide a bill number and a very brief description
  • Be brief, honest, explicit, and courteous
  • Try to provide a personal perspective 
  • Don’t overstate your case and always admit if you don’t know an answer
  • Thank them for their time
  • Follow-up with any information you promise to provide

It’s up to us to stand up for our public wildlife, lands, waters and public access to enjoy them.

Legislative Action Team Meetings

Don’t miss the weekly MWF 2021 Legislative Action Team zoom call.  Join our Legislative Action Team to receive the weekly zoom invites. The call will be every Monday at 7 PM. Unable to attend a call? View the recordings below.

Legislative Action Team Zoom 01.04.2021

Legislative Action Team  01.11. 2021 

Legislative Action Team  1.18.2021 

Legislative Action Team 01.25.2021 

Legislative Action Team 02.01.2021 

Legislative Action Team 02.08.2021

Legislative Action Team 02.15.2021

Legislative Action Team 02.22.2021

Legislative Action Team 03.01.2021

The 67th Montana Legislative Assembly convened on January 4th and will be, as always, a busy one for issues that affect wildlife, habitat, and access for sportswomen and sportsmen, and recreationists. 

Join Today

Add your email to start protecting Montana's natural treasures.