FWP wants to slaughter elk on public lands

The Gianforte administration is working to slaughter elk on our public lands for six months of the year to ensure that some landowners and outfitters can sell trophy bulls in the archery and rifle seasons. 

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks unveiled its plans to expand the extended “shoulder seasons” for cow elk up to six months and onto our National Forest lands in 19 hunting districts. These districts are areas that are heavily leased by outfitters for trophy hunting operations and therefore are not getting the needed harvest of cow elk to manage our public herds. 

Shoulder seasons can run from Aug. 15 to Feb. 15. They were meant to supplement elk harvest in areas where the population is over the objective laid out in the statewide elk management plan, but not replace harvest during Montana’s archery and rifle seasons, which run from early September through November. 

The shoulder seasons included criteria that at least half of the harvest come during the archery and rifle seasons. The districts where the extensions are proposed were cut back in 2019 because they weren’t meeting the criteria, and were beginning to replace general season harvest. 

This new proposal was crafted without any data on the shoulder seasons in those districts. It amounts to building seasons around outfitters ability to sell trophy bulls, then have public hunters come in to deal with the overpopulation of elk by killing cows in deep snows and bitter cold conditions. 

It also amounts to managing for low numbers of elk on our public lands. This is just the beginning of trophy management, and as we’ve seen in other states that means less hunting opportunity for the public and more for the wealthy. 

Hunters need to say enough, and push back. Contact the Fish and Wildlife Commission today and tell them no to extended shoulder seasons on public lands. 

You can contact the Commission by email at fwcomm@mt.gov or go to https://fwp.mt.gov/aboutfwp/commission

 

By Nick Gevock

Montanans Call Upon Sen. Daines to Support Stone-Manning as BLM Director

HELENA, MT ( July 21, 2021 ) — In advance of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources’ vote on the nomination of Tracy Stone-Manning to lead the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Montanans are calling on Senator Steve Daines to put aside partisan politics and vote to advance Stone-Manning’s nomination to the Senate floor.

After weeks of blatant misinformation regarding Stone-Manning’s past, in recent days over 1500 Montana hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts signed a letter to Sen. Daines, urging him to reverse course on his recent request to President Biden to withdraw her nomination. His opposition completely ignores Stone-Manning’s stellar thirty-year career of being an inclusive, collaborative leader and dedicated public servant.

Montanans support Stone-Manning because they know her as an exceptionally qualified candidate who will bring much-needed balance, leadership and transparency to the agency that has not had a confirmed director for more than four years. They understand that her becoming Director of the BLM would be good for Montana.

“Montana hunters and anglers deserve a BLM Director who understands sporting values and the urgent need to protect public lands for future generations. For over thirty years, Tracy StoneManning has demonstrated her commitment to these principles while working with various stakeholders to achieve desired outcomes. We urge Senator Daines to be on the right side of history by supporting a Montana sportswoman to oversee our public lands and uphold our sporting traditions.” – Frank Szollosi, Executive Director of Montana Wildlife Federation

“Montana families and Montana women roundly support Tracy Stone-Manning’s nomination to lead the Bureau of Land Management and ask Senator Daines to truly represent Montana interests and do the same. Stone-Manning is a proven, thoughtful, courageous leader who has worked tirelessly on behalf of diverse interest groups to maintain the integrity and value of our public lands and waters. Stone-Manning is the best woman for the job, and we urge Senator Daines and Senate Republicans to cast aside partisan politics and vote to confirm Tracy Stone-Manning.” –
Becky Edwards, Executive Director of Mountain Mamas

“Tracy Stone-Manning brings decades of experience and inherent knowledge of how to find common ground solutions that advance the preservation and protection of our valuable public lands and waters. Her love of the outdoors, and her balanced approach to achieving progress with all the necessary voices at the table make her the best choice to lead the Bureau of Land Management. The communities, businesses, and Montana jobs that rely on our healthy and protected outdoors deserve a leader like Tracy Stone-Manning, who will invite collaboration and who will promote the stewardship and the practices that protect the assets that drive our livelihoods in Montana.” – Marne Hayes, Business for Montana’s Outdoors

“Tracy Stone-Manning has had to endure a full-throated campaign meant to smear the sterling reputation she has among Montanans on both sides of the aisle. Our respect and support for her hasn’t budged one bit. She’s a steadfast, honest broker who has mastered the art of working with folks from a broad spectrum of interests, who is equally adept at working with conservationists as she is with timber and oil and gas executives. Sen. Daines knows this as well as anyone, and so we’re disappointed that he can’t see his way to support her, a fellow Montanan.” – Ben Gabriel, Executive Director of Wild Montana

“Stone-Manning represents the best of Montana’s bipartisan, get-it-done ethos and is a prime study in how hunters and anglers step up to protect the resources upon which we depend. I can think of no finer candidate to lead and rebuild our largest public lands management agency.” – Walker Conyngham, President of Hellgate Hunters and Anglers

“Tracy is a proven leader who involves everyone in important decisions and actions that affect our public lands. This collaborative approach is what we need at the helm of BLM.” – Larry Berrin, Executive Director of Montana Audubon

“Tracy Stone-Manning is the best of Montana. Montanans support her and as our Senator, Steve Daines should represent his constituents. Montanans should hold him accountable to the fullest extent every time he chooses politics over public lands.” – Whitney Tawney, Executive Director of Montana Conservation Voters

“For more than three decades, Tracy has brought people together from all walks of life to solve complex problems. That’s why she has so much support from community leaders, timber interests, miners, hunters, and conservationists. As a Westerner, an avid sportswoman, and a brilliant thinker, Tracy has the experience and temperament to be an exceptional Director of the Bureau of Land Management. It has been disheartening to see the partisan campaign that has been launched against her, but Tracy will not let petty politics interfere with a management philosophy that breaks down barriers and ensures that all Americans can benefit from our nation’s public lands.” – Marcia Brownlee, Program Manager for the National Wildlife Federation’s Artemis Sportswomen Initiative.

“Tracy Stone-Manning is a highly experienced collaborative leader who will manage our public lands to benefit both people and wildlife. We urge Senator Daines to lift his opposition and let the president pick his own team to manage our nation’s public lands.” – Scott Brennan, Montana State Director of The Wilderness Society

 

Shoulder seasons are being abused by FWP

 

When Montana began extended elk “shoulder seasons” in 2015, they were not meant to be permanent, and more importantly, they were never meant to replace the harvest of elk during our archery and rifle seasons.

But under a proposal from Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, that’s where shoulder seasons are heading in 18 hunting districts. They include HDs 262, 290, 298, 390, 391, 393, 411, 417, 502, 510, 511, 520, 530, 540, 560, 575, 580 and 590. These are areas with very limited public hunting access during the archery and general seasons to help us manage elk populations.

The Commission last year shortened these seasons because they weren’t meeting the criteria that were agreed to with the hunters of Montana. That included data collection on how they’re working, whether we’re seeing the increase in elk harvest during the 11-week archery and rifle seasons, and whether we’re getting half of the needed harvest in the longstanding archery and rifle seasons.

If the Commission considers accepting these recommendations, it has yet to provide the public the data on how these seasons are working, and whether they’re meeting the criteria for a shoulder season.

The shoulder seasons in the long run encourage some landowners to harbor elk. They can sell trophy bull hunts for six weeks of archery hunting and five weeks of rifle, then get hunters in for winter cow elk hunts to address the overpopulation.

Contact the Commission today and tell them to stick to the agreement with the hunters of Montana, that shoulder seasons were never meant to be permanent, and that we need to maintain some ethics in hunting and focus on our 11 weeks of archery and rifle hunting to manage our public elk.

The deadline to comment is July 26, so please send your message by emailing the Commission at fwcomm@mt.gov

Public Comment Needed on Wolf Season Bills

The Montana Fish and Wildlife Commission will be setting the seasons for wolf hunting and trapping for next year, and public comment is needed on how it implements a slate of bills pushing for aggressive measures to kill more wolves.

The 2021 Legislature passed three bills that ignored science and simply aim to kill more wolves. They included HB 224, HB 225 and SB 314. Collectively they call for snaring, extended trapping seasons, night hunting, baiting and taking multiple wolves on one license.

But these bills also give the Commission discretion in how they’re implemented. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologists gave a proposal to the Commission this month that acknowledges the science and would lessen the impacts of these extreme anti-wolf measures. They include allowing snares only on private lands, looking at regional differences in setting season dates, and holding a Commission review of seasons once the harvest reaches 450 wolves, with reviews for every 50 wolves killed after that.

Baiting of wolves near traps is a major concern, because it will certainly draw other native carnivores near them including threatened and endangered species like lynx and grizzly bears.

The Montana Wildlife Federation supports ethical, fair chase hunting and trapping of wolves and management based on the best available science, not emotions and local politics. The legislation that passed – and signed into law by the Governor – are neither ethical nor constitute fair chase. Montana’s wolf seasons were working well, and we had strong participation and good success among wolf hunters.

We are calling on the public to comment on these seasons. Make your voice heard. This is your wildlife, and your Fish and Wildlife Commission.

You can submit comments by emailing the Commission at fwcomm@mt.gov, and you can find your commissioner and contact information by going to https://fwp.mt.gov/aboutfwp/commission.

2021 Legislature attacks on wildlife, habitat and public access

Hunters, anglers, and outdoor recreationists had the toughest legislative session in over two decades this year.

The 2021 Montana Legislature included numerous bills that worked to put into state law elk management, restrict public access to public lands, curtail land conservation efforts, and write special hunting seasons into law. It was the most difficult session in over two decades, and many bad bills passed.

Still, through hard work, we were able to beat back some of the worst bills. It took a broad coalition of sporting and outdoors advocates to kill these bills, through heavy engagement by hunters, anglers, and other outdoors enthusiasts.

The Montana Wildlife Federation is thankful to our members, volunteers, and conservation partners who all rallied to make their collective voice heard. It was especially important this session when public participation was far more limited because of the Covid 19 pandemic. Our Legislative Action Team was vital to getting the public engaged in the process, and we’re working to build on that effort.

We’re working to learn from this session, develop a proactive conservation agenda and we are asking the advocates we partnered with to continue with us as we engage the Fish and Wildlife Commission and the Gianforte Administration, as well as prepare for the 2023 Legislature. We must continue to develop our broad coalition of conservationists to advance positive policies that benefit our public wildlife, habitat, and access. Several of these bad bills are likely to come back, and we need to be prepared.

Here is the complete list of the dozens of bills that came forward this session, both good and bad.

 

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Alec Underwood

Federal Conservation Campaigns Director

Alec is responsible for developing and implementing MWF’s federal conservation advocacy and policy campaigns to protect Montana’s fish and wildlife. He spends most of his free time hunting big game and fly fishing Montana’s cherished trout rivers. He also enjoys backpacking, skiing, photography, and woodworking. 

alec@mtwf.org