Conservation Legend Poz Devoted Life to “the Democracy of the Wild”

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Jim Posewitz sits and talks with Randy Newberg and fisheries biologist Mike Duncan during the filming of The Dam That Never was | A Conservation Story of the Yellowstone River. Jim was a key advocate who helped stop the dam. © Dale Evans

We all knew him as “Poz,” and for more than six decades he was a leading voice for wildlife conservation, ethical hunting, and the protection of Montana’s rivers. Today we can look at the undammed Yellowstone River, the Upper Missouri River Breaks National Monument, and the abundance of wild lands and wildlife we all love and thank Jim Posewitz as one of the key leaders for his tireless conservation efforts.

He committed his life to protect what he called “the democracy of the wild” so that everyone – regardless of social status or income – could enjoy public wildlife.

Posewitz, 85, moved on in July to be with the son he lost years ago for “one final hunt through the stellar chaos of the cosmos,” as he wrote. His loss was crushing to his hundreds of friends who for decades saw Poz as among the grandfathers of conservation, and who kept working toward those efforts until his final days.
Those who knew him well also recount that he was committed to passing this conservation legacy on to future generations, and inspiring others to take up the fight. He was a passionate hunter who was deeply rooted in the tradition of the hunter/conservationist, said Chris Marchion, MWF board member, and past president.

“Jim was the guy who described this notion that hunters were the greatest conservationists,” he said.
Poz lived a remarkable life, one that is known for his immense contributions to wildlife conservation but also full of other interests and pursuits. But his passion, more than anything, was wildlife conservation and ensuring that future generations had an abundance of wildlife to enjoy.

His book “Beyond Fair Chase” has more than 1 million copies in print, and is a staple in youth hunter education programs around the country. And he wrote numerous other books as well, detailing the decades of conservation work that began with a court case laying out that wildlife was a public resource, to be managed for the public.

His accomplishments were so numerous, and among them was encouraging the next generation to take up the fight and work to protect wild lands, waters and wildlife.

“Poz always told me, ‘I’m glad to see you’re still raising hell,’” said J.W. Westman, MWF board member. “He was just one of those people if you cared about things, you knew enough to listen to.”

Nick Gevock serves as conservation director for MWF.

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