Republican Hill sees wildlife in terms of hunting; Democrat Bullock takes a more expansive view of the value of wildlife-

The view of governors on wildlife makes a big difference because wildlife management is the province of the states except for endangered species and some marine mammals.

Montana’s Democrat  and current attorney general Steve Bullock and Republican congressman Rick Hill and locked in a tight race. According to a special election series, their debates, speeches, and web pages, Hill has plenty of opinions about wildlife, and all are related to hunting of big game. He really doesn’t like wolves, and he is down on cougar and bear too. Hill also opposes allowing bison to roam in Montana outside the tiny portion of Yellowstone Park in the state.  “It doesn’t make any sense to me that we would promote the idea of free-roaming bison,” he said in the second debate. Hill apparently believes the scientifically discredited view that bison are a threat to spreading brucellosis. Wildlife for him is mostly hunting deer, elk, and moose.

He has vowed to remake the Montana State Fish, Wildlife and Parks Commission “from the top down.”  Hill believes the wildlife herds have decreased dramatically.  The Dept. of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has said that this often asserted view is not true. In fact, they say, but not loudly, that Montana’s elk herds have never been more abundant. There are 140,000 elk statewide in 2011 about 10% above the Department’s objective.

Hill is concerned about the lack of access for hunting, but wants to reduce land acquisition for wildlife and review some to Governor Schweitzer’s acquisitions.

Hill wants to create some no wolf zones in Montana as is now the case in Wyoming.  He basically does not want so see them spread beyond Western Montana.

Hill’s web page makes points on wolves and sportsmen, but there is no reference to any outdoor recreation other than hunting and fishing.

Democrat Steve Bullock, on the other hand, did participate in last year’s Montana wolf hunt. He says that wildlife belongs to all Montanans and should be managed scientifically, not by politicians. Bullock wants to make sure the federal government does not somehow regain wolf management in Montana. He wants professionals to manage wildlife with “sound science” and not with a political agenda in mind.

In the second debate between the candidates, Bullock showed less enthusiasm for allowing bison to repopulate some parts of the state than the current governor Brian Schweitzer, though he was not anti-bison like Hill.

Bullock has received the endorsement of Montana’s League of Conservation Voters.

While it is hard to tell how things will turn out, it appears that those who favor wildlife in general have a real choice here, but it is between awful and fair.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides.

8 Responses to A difference on wildlife between Montana’s gubernatorial candidates

  1. avatar Larry Keeney says:

    The choice nationally is between tepid at best with Obama and crushed ice with Romney.

  2. avatar Louise Kane says:

    between awful and not as awful

  3. avatar jon says:

    Hill is a very scary person. A right wing extremist if you will.

  4. avatar Tim border says:

    Make no mistake about it Hill will gut the MT FWP for the privatization of the management of our fish, wildlife , waters and lands. He will revive “Ranching for Wildlife” which is a scheme to privatize and capitalize on Montana public owned fish, wildlife lands, water and the public’s access to these assets.

  5. avatar alf says:

    “Hill believes the wildlife herds have decreased dramatically. The Dept. of Fish, Wildlife and Parks has said that this often asserted view is not true. In fact, they say, but not loudly, that Montana’s elk herds have never been more abundant. There are 140,000 elk statewide in 2011 about 10% above the Department’s objective.”

    The following, from Missoulta TV station KECI’s website this AM, seems to support Hill’s assertion, at least in the SW part of the state:

    FWP to implement new elk hunting regulations

    GALLATIN COUNTY

    By Lauren Maschmedt, KTVM Reporter, lmaschmedt@ktvm.com

    POSTED: Oct 12 2012 10:43:45 PM MDT

    FWP to implement new elk hunting regulations 10-12-12
    BOZEMAN, Mont. –
    Hunting season opens next weekend, but there’s some new regulations to watch out for if you’re elk hunting in Southwest Montana.

    FWP spokesperson Andrea Jones told us they’ve tightened some of the protocol in Hunting Districts 360 and 362- the Upper and Lower Madison areas west of

    Bozeman- and Districts 313 and 314 in the southern Paradise Valley and Gardiner areas.

    For example, hunters can only harvest one elk in HD 360- no matter how many licenses they have. There previously wasn’t a limit.

    And in both areas, hunters can no longer harvest either cow or bull elk. A general license only covers a brow-tined bull.

    For antlerless elk, hunters must have applied for and drawn an Elk B license.

    Also in both areas, they must now report all harvests within 72 hours.

    HD 313 around Gardiner is no longer open to general hunting licenses. Hunters must have drawn a specific permit to hunt in that area.

    And in 314, instead of hunting both sexes, general licenses only cover brow-tined bull. Again, hunters need that Elk B license for antlerless elk.

    At Bob Wards on Friday, hunters were busy getting ready for the season. We talked to a few to see if the new rules change their game plan.

    “It is a nice option to have that- to be able to take a cow if you’re out there hunting for bulls you’re not coming across anything” said Bob Wards worker Griffin Woodal.

    He hunts elk in those areas, and said he likes having the option of hunting cow elk.

    He didn’t get the special permit, so he won’t be able to this year.

    “It just kind of sucks when you have to see it change in one of the areas that you hunt a lot” Woodal said.

    Though he said it’s a disappointment, Woodal said it won’t keep him out of the woods. He already has plans in place to go hunting next weekend.

    Andrea Jones from FWP told us they made the regulation changes to better manage elk populations in those areas, because she said they’ve seen a significant decrease in numbers.

    She also said those areas are popular hunting spots that previously had little regulation.

    Before they finalized the new rules, Jones said they went through a process of drafting the regulations and accepting public comment earlier this year.

    Hunters who wanted Elk B licenses or the permit to hunt in HD 313 applied to do so by last June. From there, they drew names to choose who got the special permits and licenses.

    General elk and deer season opens October 20th, and runs through November 25th.

  6. avatar elk275 says:

    ++For example, hunters can only harvest one elk in HD 360- no matter how many licenses they have. There previously wasn’t a limit.++

    That is not right. A hunter has never been able to harvest an unlimited number of elk. A hunter is able to kill one bull elk and depending upon the hunting may be able to kill an additional cow with a second license.

    These new restrictions in region three have a lot to do with the present of wolves and an increase in the grizzly population. That is the truth and the hunter is suffering.

    The total statewide population of elk has increased. The increased elk population is in Eastern Montana on private land where hunter access has become difficult. Large trophy elk are money to a landowner or competiton for grass.

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

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