He says, "Hunting in Montana , which was described in a USFWS 2001 study, used to be a $237.6 million industry and the number one hunting culture in all 50 states, has been harmed by extreme predator densities. SB 397 is an attempt at fairness and equity in broadening the menu of huntable animals, raising the probability of hunter success and addressing predator control within the parameters of existing Montana Code Annotated."
MT FWP has long been criticized for enforcing methods of take that are far too restrictive to permit hunters to take sufficient numbers of wolves, mountain lions and bears. Likewise, inadequate limits or quotas have hampered sufficient harvests of these predators, insuring that come the next birthing season there would be still more predators putting even more pressure and greater negative impact on other wildlife resources.
Introduced by Montana State Senator Scott Boulanger (R-Darby), SB397 calls for changes which would establish provisional predator seasons in those hunt districts which have seen elk and other big game populations fall well below objective levels, resulting in far fewer hunting licenses now issued, along with more restrictive hunting regulations. These are the units, or districts, which have been impacted the hardest by too many wolves, too many lions and too many bears. In order to sufficiently reduce predator populations, allowing big game numbers to rebound, this bill eliminates many of the FWP methods of take restrictions which have prevented hunters from properly controlling predators. This legislation also significantly reduces the costs of non-resident licenses for hunting these predators, pretty much eliminates quotas, expands limits, and calls for extremely long seasons - in the affected hunt districts only. The purpose of these provisional hunts is to make a dramatic reduction in predator populations.
Keith Kubista, president of Montana Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife says, "It is very encouraging to see a legislator who understands the predator prey relationship and negative effects of past failed predator policy. Senator Scott Boulanger has created a solution to recover ungulates and ultimately restore big game hunting opportunities by introducing Senate Bill 397. All legitimate sportsmen and organizations should be beating down the doors of the Capitol and attend the Senate Fish and Game Committee hearing on Tuesday 3-26 in room 422 to testify in support of SB 397. Senator Boulanger has an extensive hunting history, involvement in the Bitteroot elk working group and other activities that enabled him to formulate a mechanism, SB 397, that will finally turn things around for the hunting community."
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