Calling down the thunder

“The fightin’s commenced. Get to fighting or get out of the way”
Wyatt Earp

This fourth week of the 63rd session of the Montana Legislature has gotten off to a rocky start. Political games with highly controversial bills being scheduled hastily so opposition can’t organize easily; shenanigans with secret meetings to try and carve out our access funding for personal and partisan gain; and the return of the anti-public hunter bills like SB 151 are all bubbling. Throw in a little insult of forcing hunters to pay for brucellosis testing, mandates for test and slaughter of elk and stripping hunting privileges away for three years if you accidentally walk on some private ground and you have what is shaping up to be a banner session.

Groups like the United Property Owners of Montana are walking the halls with their lobbyists talking about test and slaughter of elk and transferable licenses for landowners while other groups like Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife try desperately to pass bad legislation that would crater Montana’s ability to hunt wolves.

If you thought 2011 was bad, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

Here’s the list of bills related just to Fish and Wildlife issues. It’s only 139 strong. Only 48 of those have been introduced now, but the doozies are still coming:

Bills that hand over wildlife management to the counties. LC 1855, by Bitterroot freshman legislator Nancy Ballance would cost the tax payers of each county god knows how much as they spend months trying to draft a wildlife management plan. These are the people we’re going to let control our public wildlife?
And then there’s HB 249 and SB 143 – If you want to hunt Wild Buffalo, you can forget it if these bills pass. HB 249 erases 120 years of conservation ethic by allowing landowners to decide if wild bison live or die in the Gardiner Basin. SB 143 seeks to eliminate any bison in the state of Montana other than those privately held. That’s right – kill ‘em all and screw the rest of you. I suppose I shouldn't be so surprised that this war on wildlife and the resident hunter is back in full force. This session went from Kumbaya to all out war over the course of a weekend.

The honeymoon is over, if there ever was one. Batcrap crazy has left the room and buffalo chip nuts has entered. Gear up folks. One thing we like that might see the light of day is a bi-partisan bill to address corner crossing. This bill put two legislators together who probably don’t agree on anything else, Hellgate Hunters and Anglers member Rep. Ellie Hill (D-Missoula) and Rep. Krayton Kerns (R-Laurel). Their bill would make it legal to cross from checker boarded public land to public land, opening up 1.5 million acrs of inaccessible public land. Sign the petition here.

We all have the responsibility to carry on the legacy set in place over a 150 years ago. Many have come before us to protect our heritage it’ our turn to do our part. Sign up for the Bully Nation and get those emails, phone calls coming in. Take a sick day and come testify. Stand up for Montana’s wildlife and your opportunity to hunt & fish.

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Hellgate Hunters and Anglers
Our Mission is to conserve Montana's wildlife, wild places, and fair-chase hunting and fishing heritage.