PROTECTING OUR HUNTING AND HARVEST HERITAGE

On the heels of the defeat of I-177 (the 2016 anti-trapping initiative), and in light of the growing vegan/anti-hunting movement in America, I asked Montana sportsmen if they would like to work toward a Constitutional Amendment to protect hunting, fishing, and trapping in Montana once and for all. The answer was a resounding YES!

 

 After several weeks of intensive work, we agreed to propose the language of SB 236 in 2017. SB 236 can be easily read at: http://leg.mt.gov/bills/2017/billpdf/LC2314.pdf

 

UPDATE (April 2017) - UNFORTUNATELY GOVERNOR BULLOCK'S ADMINISTRATION TEAMED UP WITH  ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVISTS, AND www.GreenDecoys.com to KILL the Right to Hunt Bill. EVERY SINGLE MONTANA DEMOCRAT SENATOR VOTED AGAINST YOUR RIGHT TO HUNT! 

 

THE GOALS OF SB 236 WERE SIMPLE:

  1. It proposed to ask Montana voters to AMEND the Montana Constitution to strengthen and safeguard the right of Montana citizens to harvest fish and wildlife via hunting, fishing, or trapping;
  1. It proposed to ACKNOWLEDGE that the right of the people to hunt, fish, and trap is essential to pursuing life's basic necessities; 
  1. And it proposed to ALLOW wildlife management and conservation to continue through State laws and FWP regulations that seek to:
  1. Scientifically manage fish and wildlife populations (i.e. the State must rely on reasoned scientific analysis rather than unscientific/emotionally driven arguments); and
  1. Protect persons and property from threats or harm caused by wildlife (i.e. quagga mussels and other invasive species can be contained and eradicated, livestock depredation and land owner tolerance programs can continue, wildlife that threatens people can continue to be dealt with according to law); and
  1. Make use of public (citizen) hunting, fishing, and trapping to control wildlife populations when possible. For example, when fish or wildlife populations need to be reduced, the State will give preference to citizen hunters/anglers/trappers if the job can be done that way. It will also protect current lawful means and methods of hunting fishing and trapping – in other words, if it’s a legal form of harvest now, it will be protected. That includes ceremonial native American bison hunts, compound and traditional bow hunting, current lawful trapping techniques, modern and traditional firearms, use of lion hounds and bird dogs, etc. However, hunting, fishing, and trapping will still be subject to State licensing and FWP Commission regulations.

 

That is what the bill proposed. If the legislature passed SB 236, the issue would have been placed on the General Election ballot for voter approval in November 2018.

 

Some critics say we don’t need this change, but the actions of the animal rights movement and the cost to sportsmen to battle against their relentless campaigns clearly demonstrate otherwise. Since 2010, 10 States have enacted very strong Constitutional protections of the Right to Hunt, Fish and Trap. If the sports men and women of Montana banded together in support of SB236, we could have enacted strong protections in our State too. Unfortunatley the Monatan Democrats decided to put partisan politics first and they KILLED the right to hunt bill.

 

I encouraged each Montana sportsman and sportswoman to read the bill for themselves and offerd to accet input if there were any changes needed to improve the bill. As a fellow hunter and angler, I remain open to working with any and all sportsmen who share the goal of strengthening and preserving our blessed outdoor harvest heritage while also maintaining proper protection of land based livlihoods and private property rights.

 

Sincerely,

Jennifer Fielder, Chair - Montana Senate Fish and Game Committee