Our Montana hunting and fishing heritage may be in danger

Over the last 20 years, the face of hunting and fishing in Montana has changed substantially. Ranches in Montana are no longer bought by Montanans, but instead by large out-of-state interests, wolves have been introduced onto the landscape, legislation has been enacted requiring big game population objectives be set at artificially low numbers, FWP has been charged with management of an increasing number of non-game non-huntable species without additional revenue sources to fund that charge, legislators with little to no knowledge of hunting and fishing issues are voting in new laws without understanding their impact on the Montana resident hunter and angler, and maybe most importantly, landowners and sportsmen and women no longer are the friends and allies that they once were.

The challenge facing Montana hunters and anglers today is “how do we preserve the Montana hunting and fishing heritage?” The unprecedented onslaught of anti-hunter, anti-angler, anti-FWP bills in previous legislatures galvanized people from across the state, which led sportsmen to organize in a grassroots effort to defeat most of those attacks on Montana’s hunting and fishing heritage. Thankfully, the governor vetoed others. We were lucky because the legislators sponsoring these bad bills were surprised by the outrage of Montana resident hunters and anglers.

What does the future hold for our hunting/fishing heritage in Montana? That will largely be determined by who we elect to the legislature and governor’s office. The Montana Sportsmen Alliance was spawned from the 2011 legislative session with the goal of preserving/enhancing our wildlife resources and protecting the Montana resident hunter/angler. To this end we hope to encourage greater involvement by Montana sportsmen in the process, provide accurate information on the issues to both sportsmen and legislative candidates, meet with the candidates from both parties to discuss our concerns and provide relevant, accurate data/information; develop a platform of pro-hunting, fishing and access bills that both landowners and sportsmen can support; and to participate in future legislative sessions to provide the voice of reason on Montana fish and wildlife issues.

What can you do to help? Start by learning about the issues from reliable sources and getting actively involved in your local sportsmen organizations. The Montana Sportsmen Alliance website (www.montanasportsmenalliance.com) has information and resources. Our MSA PAC Blog has articles from newspapers, sportsmens written articles, alerts, etc. A major problem is finding reliable, accurate sources of information. Beware of groups and individuals that claim to represent the average hunters and anglers but upon scrutiny, may not in fact represent the average Joe, but instead have their own hidden agenda. “Truth and facts” can be a difficult commodity to find at times.

Find out where your elected officials stand on hunting, fishing and access issues. Discuss your concerns with the candidates. Go to candidate forums and whenever possible, have one-on-one discussions with them. Be sure that they understand your concerns and that you will hold them accountable for their actions in the legislature. When you find a candidate that shares your views and values on wildlife issues, support them and work for their election. At MSA, we believe hunting, fishing and access issues are non-partisan and should be separated from each party’s ideology. We want the legislators to vote on the merits of the individual bills and respect for the wishes of their constituents rather than the party designation of its sponsor.

Talk to landowners to start re-building the relationships hunters/anglers once had. Realize that a very small percentage of sportsmen have created real problems for landowners and understand their frustration with hunters/anglers. Recognize the impact hunting season has on landowners with all the people stopping by and/or phoning them. Offer to help out in the off season and send thank you notes after the season. The landowners are not our enemies nor are we their enemies.

Make no mistake, this upcoming election will determine the face of hunting, fishing and access for Montana resident hunters/anglers for many years to come. The threats are real. Special interest groups and individuals are already preparing legislation that will be very detrimental to our children’s hunting and fishing heritage. The Montana resident hunting and fishing community is one of the largest voting blocs in the state and if we stand together we can create a positive environment for the future.

Welcome to Montana Sportsmen Alliance PAC!

Our group was born out of the disastrous 62nd Montana Legislature. Sportsmen have gathered together to support the philosophy and programs we subscribe to.


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