Friday, March 24, 2017


Sorry for short notice but they are sneaky.  Please oppose HB 651 crippling Habitat Montana….one of our priorities.  3Pm House Natural Resources.  Might just as well send to the whole House as well.

   Everything we've worked for over the past year would be thrown out if HB 651 passes. This bill makes major changes to Habitat Montana that would permanently cripple the program and the ability to protect and purchase key wildlife habitat. It's up tomorrow, March 24 at 3 p.m. in House Natural Resources and we need to turn out as many people as possible to oppose this terrible bill.

   It's in Room 172. Please get there and make a difference. Most certainly call in 444-4800 or email.

   Here's the link to the bill:$BSIV.ActionQuery?P_BILL_NO1=651&P_BLTP_BILL_TYP_CD=HB&Z_ACTION=Find&P_SESS=20171

2017 MONTANA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES E-MAIL:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dr. Bob Ream has passed. R.I.P.

I am sad to report the passing of Bob Ream last nite.  He has been sick for some time.  He was my professor in college, a legislator, FWP Commission Chair, and a damn fine man.  R.I.P.

Montana On The Ground....Moga bill would reduce permits for residents

Very good analysis.

Independently reported news stories of Montana's people, land, water and wildlife.

Updates from
Montana On The Ground

In the 03/23/2017 edition:

MOGA bill would reduce permits for resident hunters

MOGA bill would reduce permits for resident hunters
By Laura Lundquist on Mar 22, 2017 10:13 pm

A group of outfitters is trying to wrest a few more game permits from the hands of Montana hunters.

On Tuesday, the Montana Outfitters and Guides Association defended its bill, House Bill 568, to ensure that nonresident hunters always get 10 percent of the permits to hunt elk, antelope, mountain lions and eventually black bears. Rep. Kerry White, R-Bozeman, carried HB568, saying it would bring in additional money for Fish, Wildlife & Parks, because nonresident licenses cost more than those of residents. But White’s justification belies the fact that it takes permits away from residents.

The number of resident and nonresident hunters who enter drawings for game permits varies each year, depending on the hunting district and species. But according to a 1979 law, nonresidents can’t receive any more than 10 percent of the permits for each species in each district.

FWP licensing chief Hank Worsech explained the drawing process this way. Say there are 100 elk permits for a particular district. FWP randomly selects hunters’ names, and as soon as they draw 10 nonresidents, no more nonresidents can get a permit in that district. However, if after 100 names are drawn, fewer than 10 nonresidents are selected – say seven – only seven nonresidents get permits. In this way, Montana residents get a little priority. But Worsech said in many districts, nonresidents end up getting 10 percent of the permits anyway.

But MOGA wants to remove the priority that resident hunters get and give nonresidents 10 percent of each species and sex in each district. So in the previous example, three residents would lose their permits so 10 nonresidents would get theirs.

Based upon the 2016 drawing results, that means last fall, residents would have lost 393 elk cow permits, 122 antelope permits and 157 female antelope permits, Worsech said. But nonresidents would have added about $147,000 to FWP’s coffers. But all that could change in next year’s drawing.

MOGA lobbyist Jeanne Johnson said this was the bill she’s wanted to bring for the past 13 legislative sessions. She explained that the 1979 law was passed after some nonresident hunters behaved badly in 1978, causing legislators to pass a bill to clamp down on the number of nonresidents.

“That’s 38 years ago – I think it’s time to let that go,” Johnson said. “The nonresident supports that (FWP) agency across the street – 70 percent of their budget. That’s a lot of money. But now we want to honor those people and say, ‘You get 10 percent.’”

MOGA executive director Mac Minard also claimed to be advocating for nonresident hunters because otherwise they’ll go hunt in other states. Both Minard and Republican committee members said the nonresidents would spend additional money on food, hotels and transportation, but couldn’t say how much more that would add to Montana’s economy, especially since resident hunters also pay for food, hotels and transportation unless they’re hunting near home.

Other than the fact that state Legislatures don’t usually pass laws to favor nonresidents – they usually look after their own citizens – Montana Wildlife Federation spokesman Nick Gevock said HB568 was not appropriate because it takes season-setting duties out of the hands of the FWP commissioners. Montana Bowhunters spokesman Jerry Davis agreed with Gevock.

Every two years, FWP commissioners approve the numbers of individuals and species that can be hunted and trapped in each district and sometimes need to vary the proportion of hunters due to circumstances such as accounting for promised landowner permits.

“We oppose season setting in statute. If we go down that road, we’ll be asked to set all seasons in statute. That would make managing wildlife virtually impossible,” Gevock said. “Twenty percent of our membership is nonresidents, so I disagree that MOGA is the only organization looking out for nonresident hunters. We welcome nonresident hunters and want opportunity for them, but it already exists. This wouldn’t benefit Montana resident hunters.”

It would benefit MOGA members because nonresident hunters tend to hire guides. About a third of nonresident hunters use guides, Minard said, but that could increase if more nonresident hunters could get permits. Minard didn’t provide many other details about outfitters’ operations other than to say that about 400 outfitters belong to MOGA although about 100 appear to be inactive.

MOGA has already pushed for other bills that would favor outfitters, including SB264, which would require outfitters to provide only minimal information to the Board of Outfitters. MOGA also forced angling representative Robin Cunningham off the Board of Outfitters by opposing his nomination. Cunningham advocated for transparency and outfitter reporting of resources they use.

Kerry tried to justify HB568 by saying increasing the number of nonresident hunters would keep resident-license costs down. But that’s not necessarily so.

FWP has to calculate its budget for every four years and sets license and permit fees based on past license sales and the department’s expenses. FWP will have to do that again in 2018 for the next four years and fees may or may not change based upon a complicated calculus of how all the fees add together, whether federal money has increased or decrease and whether they cover any number of expenses. And Montana’s resident hunters still pay some of the lowest fees in the nation.

But ultimately, it may come down to lost resident hunting opportunity.

“We oppose the 10 percent becoming a floor rather than a ceiling (for nonresident numbers),” Gevock said.

Introduced at the end of February, HB568 has already been amended but hasn't passed the committee or the House yet, after which it would still need to be passed by the Senate.

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Monday, March 20, 2017

MBA Legislative Alert Oppose HB 568


March 16, 2017
MBA Legislative Alert

HB 568, a bill sponsored by Representative Kerry White and being brought for MOGA, will be heard in front of the House Fish Wildlife and Parks Committee on Tuesday, March 21st.
This bill seeks to divide the archery season in the Missouri breaks for nonresidents in to two separate seasons

Additionally this bill seeks to require that a full 10% of Missouri breaks archery-only permits to be issued to nonresidents.

If enacted this bill will take some of the FWP Commission’s authority for establishing hunting rules, specifically season setting authority, and give that authority to the Legislature.  This is a dangerous precedent.  Our concern should be will the legislature seek to set other seasons in future sessions.

At present the FWP Commission sets seasons through the tentatives process which allows ample time for public comment and study.  This process works, let’s not change it.

Also by requiring, rather than allowing, 10% of fully subscribed permits to go to nonresident’s opportunity will be taken from resident archers.  The total number of permits will be established by the biologists, so, if 10% go to nonresidents, instead of up to 10% of nonresidents Montana residents may have fewer tags available.

Though the impacts may be small it nonetheless will impact some resident bowhunters.

Please ask the House Fish Wildlife and Parks Committee to table this bill.

MSA ALERT: Oppose Hb 568 Just another Moga Entitlement bill

Montana Sportsmen Alliance
HB 568 Comment:  Please Oppose

The Montana Sportsmen Alliance was founded to protect our prized Montana traditions like hunting, angling, trapping and conservation of such.  We founded to help protect the Montana resident hunters and anglers from the overreach of the Legislature when bills to privatize and/or commercialize those prized traditions are brought forth.

In 2007, Montana FWP held numerous public meetings throughout the state to deal with the Missouri Breaks Elk Archery issue. At issue were that resident hunters were being outnumbered by outfitted non-resident hunters.  The allocation of unlimited tags was wreaking havoc on our elk and the quality of the hunt for sportsmen/women.

At those public hearings, where everyone was given the opportunity to comment, Montana hunters spoke loudly & clearly; they wanted those Breaks tags to be put on a drawing basis so the scales would again allow the residents to participate more equitably in a quality hunt.

HB -568, unfortunately turns back the clock on that democratically decided issue by Montana hunters.  It is just one more of many Moga,  self-serving entitlement bills.  It is a waste of legislative time and slap in the face to the resident hunters who participated in 2007 and have continued to oppose these kind of commercial interest bills.

The mandatory 10% allocation for Non-residents is another attempt to bypass the public.  The current “up to 10%” is plenty.  What is broke??   Why aren’t we considering eliminating Non-Resident permits where the drawing odds for residents is horribly low??

This bill is another attempt to  legislate game management over FWP Commission Authority.    These attempts leave the public out of the process (the goal).   It is with these reasons the Montana Sportsmen Alliance strongly opposes HB 568. 

Please include our comment into the official record.  Thanks a bunch for your time. 

Respectfully submitted,

MSA Leadership Team

Joe Perry, Conrad
John Borgreen, Great Falls
Robert Wood, Hamilton
Sam Milodragovich, Butte
Steve Schindler, Glasgow
Jeff Herbert, Helena
JW Westman, Park City