Saturday, June 03, 2023

Legislature active in new hunting regs

| May 20, 2021 12:00 AM

Well, Montana’s 2021 legislative session is over. So, let’s take a look at how citizens, hunters, anglers and trappers fared during this session.

If you follow the Letters to the Editor in local and state-wide newspapers, the Republican-run legislature felt they responded to a citizen’s mandate to cut big government and give citizens more personal freedoms. And the legislature delivered!

The legislature passed legislation that banned local ordinances like the silly Missoula ordinance that put restrictions on the transfer of guns between law abiding citizens, even between relatives.

I have a fine 22-year-old grandson living in Missoula. He lives in a new subdivision, on the edge of the city. The Missoula gun ordinance apparently would require my law-abiding grandson to go through a federal firearms process in order for me, his grandfather, to give him a new hunting rifle.

But we could take that rifle, walk out his front door, go down the street 100 yards, outside the city limits, then I could legally give him the rifle. What a goofy situation!

That ordinance was found to be illegal by former Republican Attorney General, Tim Fox, then reinstated by the District Court in Missoula. Then the Montana Supreme Court threw out the ordinance.

I thank the 2021 legislature for prohibiting cities from passing other nuisance-type gun laws that infringed on our Second Amendment rights.

The 2021 legislature also passed bills that made it easier for citizens to protect themselves, their property and livestock from wolves and marauding grizzlies.

For grizzlies, the legislature found that the grizzly bear population is fully recovered and moving into private property and residential areas, causing increased conflict with livestock and presenting human safety concerns. They go on to state that grizzlies should be removed from federal endangered species status.

The legislature further finds that Montana citizens have a right to protect themselves, their livestock and their property from wild animals.

Any Montana citizen killing a grizzly bear under these circumstances cannot be charged with a crime under Montana law.

The legislature also expanded the wolf hunting season, allowed night hunting and shooting of wolves on private land, allowed trappers and hunters to increase the number of wolves they can take, allowed the expanded use of bait and allowed the use of snares for taking wolves.

This expanded taking of wolves are similar to new laws in the adjacent states of Wyoming and Idaho.

There is no doubt that these expanded wolf hunting and trapping measures will increase the kill of wolves, but they will never, and I want to underline the word NEVER eradicate wolves from Montana. The near eradication of wolves from Montana in the early 1900s was caused by the use of poison, which is not allowed under current Montana laws.

The current expanded laws for taking wolves are no different than what the law allows for taking coyotes, fox, badgers and raccoons. Those wild unprotected critters are thriving in Montana without the heavy hand of big brother in government.

While the anti-hunting crowd and animal rights groups are crying foul, most citizens I know broadly support these common-sense laws. What can be a more basic human right than the right to defend and protect yourself, your family, your property and your livestock?

Since the beginning of human history, man has done everything possible to eradicate large predators. But in the last 30 years, the urbanization of our society and Hollywood cartoons has led some citizens to believe that wild animals have more rights than people. Thanks to the 2021 legislature for starting to turn that silly notion around.

For the angler, Senate Bill 360 was signed into law requiring FWP to review and revise the state fishery management plan.

Many anglers felt FWP was ignoring the cultural and economic benefits of Montana’s warm water fisheries. So, a fishery plan review was ordered.

Now for something less serious and much more fun. The local chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation is holding their annual fund-raising banquet this coming Saturday, May 22 at the Fairgrounds Trade Center. Doors open at 4:30 p.m. This normally is the biggest annual gathering of hunters in Northwest Montana.

The Elk Foundation is a made-in-Montana product. They now have over 230,000 members and they are one of the most respected conservation and hunting organizations in the world.

Call Kim Wold at 406-261-4111 for tickets and more information.

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