Beware of SB 236

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After getting an invite to attend a Big Game Forever meeting on March 18 at Snappys, I decided I would go just to see what was up. Sen. Fielder’s husband Paul, and his friends from Utah, Big Game Forever came to present two things. First, why I should support SB 236, which is yet another attempt to modify our state’s 1972 constitution, and this Utah’s group asking for me to basically allow them to take over my duties, on a national basis, and do my wildlife work for me.

To begin with, I am smart enough to get after my elected people locally, state-wide, and nationally about anything that I so desire, especially wildlife issues. We do not need outside of the state interlopers interfering with what is our responsibility to do. Yeah, sometimes the money may dictate, but it still boils down to us doing our job.

Locally, we have reps from numerous STATE hunting groups and wildlife oriented hunting members who do this. Plus add how active our Citizens Advisory Council has been in Region 1, and you see, it is our job to keep after all the above mentioned people who make decisions to do their job on hunting/fishing problems. Many local hunters do not realize it was Region 1’s CAC that got the black bear season in its current form. Unless it gets changed, wording in SB236 may open up what has occurred in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, etc., called Ranching for Wildlife. If game animals are thus on my property, under that concept, my new fencing goes up restricting it from leaving, and thus I get to do my own management. Montana’s 1972 Constitution mandates all state residents own its wildlife, even non-hunters, and should protect us from this concept, which by the way, privatization has been pushed by Big Game Forever. Hunting for the rich or, at least, those who can pay for it. A very dangerous path to be on.

Plus, add the Fielder’s push to take over federal lands, and I am not sure just where they really want any of this to go. They talk a good game, but my alert hackles are on full alert after this meeting involving Big Game Forever. They present a four-minute video about how moose are almost extinct in Jackson Hole. Then my Inter Lake arrives on Monday, March 20, and on Page 2, Wyoming Fish and Wildlife just completed their winter survey on moose at Jackson Hole and show there are currently 346 there now, versus 231 last winter—obviously not extinct.

Wyoming screwed the whole wolf management up, Montana had wolf management locked up through Sen. Tester’s bill, but BGF got involved and stopped that from going through, as they want to be in control, and kept us from being able to hunt them.

Be very cautious of all these potential unintended consequences, as they may mean we lose our ability to hunt as we know it. Bad enough too many locals abuse Plum Creek, now they abuse Weyerhaeuser lands, which are a privilege to hunt on. In addition, elected people are trying to end that privilege. Be very careful with some of these people in power.

Michael Shepard

Columbia Falls

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