Future of elk hunting in Montana is in jeopardy

Former Montana FWP Employee Warns of Pending Legislation.

The bill would hand over management of elk to the Montana Department of Livestock, the same agency responsible for the continued war on bison. If you think this isn’t a threat to elk then you’re crazy.

Imagine helicopters and snowmobiles chasing elk out of the state or massive roundups of elk for a test and slaughter program.

Montana has brucellosis. Live with it.

Future of elk hunting in Montana is in jeopardy



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  1. dewey Avatar

    I can’t speak much to Montana much but let me take you to the parallel universe that is Wyoming. The Wyoming Stockgrowers and their ilk have always been overly influential in setting the Elk hunt game board and the rules from just behind the curtains in Wyoming, for time immemorial. And not just Elk. Ranchers have inserted their draconian whims and special interest wishes into many layers of wildlife management. Where do you think those seasonal Elk ghettos ( feedgrounds) in western Wyoming came from ? To a much-too-large extent the Wyoming Game and Fish is an adjunct of the stockgrowers. Our state’s brazen but blind inisistence on decreeing wolves to be common ‘ shoot on sight’ predators outside the 12 percent of Wyoming in the wolf recovery zone was decreed by ranchers. Getting paid seven times market value for every cow lost to wolves was a ranchers notion never questioned, enacted by rubber stamp.

    The bottom line is, the agriculture sector of Wyoming’s economic base contains the least number of workers; produces the least revenue and profit; drags down overall income and economic statistics with hugely disproportionate costs of production on marginal lands under a tenuous economic model , requiring a HUGE amount of subsidy , public support, and tax breaks not offered to other sectors just to approach a break even point. To my mind the worst aspect is the monopolization of vast amounts of public resources such as land, grass, water, etc. Yet I cannot go into a local store to buy edible Wyoming-grown products or foodstuffs, especially not beef ( which comes from feedlots owned by megacorporation packersin Iowa that may or may not have used Wyoming ” starter” calves, or just plain Argentina all the way ). No Wyoming steak or burger on my plate unless I make an extra effort and am willing to pay much more for it. The only foods I consume that I know were made or grown in Wyoming is honey, and my friends surplus eggs. But I love elk meat…

    So here it is the 21st century …WHY do we still let the cattle barons decide too much public land policy and wildlife issues for the vastly greater number of citizens and broader economic interests – at – large ? This Montana game grab is Exhibit A. Bison is Exhibit B , ad absurdum…

    I will let the better informed readers address this issue in detail concerning Wyoming . ( Hoskins, you there ?? ).

    1. jon Avatar

      If you really think about this, having this law in effect will hurt livestock owners in the long run. Why you ask? if you kill the wolves food source, what animals do you think wolves will come after next so that they can eat? Bingo, livestock and cattle. Just my 2 cents.

  2. jimbob Avatar

    Hahahahahahahahahahahaha—–Hunters thought their enemies were the environmentalists!! What was the famous line from some author about how the nazis kept coming after different groups? “and then they came for me”. This is the problem with the two party system and these “party line votes” or single issue candidates and elections. “Throw the bums out!!!” Seriously! If they pass that bill, environmentalists AND hunters should band together to remove the morons who vote for this from office. You can do it—-the numbers would be overwhelming.

    1. ProWolf in WY Avatar
      ProWolf in WY

      Everyone thought environmentalists and wolves were the enemies of hunters. This is so much worse than any of those two groups could be. This needs to be an opportunity to really expose the stockgrowers for who they really are.

  3. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    anyone that has ever worked or lived in the state of Montana, that is not associated with the livestock business knows that the Dept of livestock is a formidable enemy, which is why many of us have worked so damn hard to classify Bison as a game animal..to take their control away..

  4. HMG Avatar

    This proposal, by its very definition, eliminates any pretext of the state managing its elk herds as wildlife and relegates them to livestock, to be managed and controlled by that industry. It is unequivocably placing the interests of hunters, wildlife watchers, conservations, and scientists below those of the livestock industry. Those within the old guard livestock industry who have always wanted to treat Yellowstone–and other wild areas– as giant ranches may actually be getting their wish. This proposal is a threat to the very concept of wildlife, public resources, and any activity or cultural view not under the control and sanction of Big Livestock. It’s long been obvious that bison, predators, bighorn sheep, endangered plants, etc. were second class citizens to cows and sheep, but now even the West’s foremost game animal?!
    Also, consider this as the height of perversity: Montana’s bison policy has long been railed against by nearly everyone outside Big Livestock, with one of the many criticisms being the hypocrisy of banning bison while ignoring brucellolis carrying elk… rather than treating bison as wildlife, this proposal seeks to iron out the inconsistency by demoting elk to livestock!
    The good news is this latest power play on behalf of the DOL can easily backfire on them, if the public stands together against this insanity. This is a near perfect issue for wildlife interests of all stripes to agree upon, and its crucial that hunters and non-hunters stand together on this one. Not only can hunters and non-hunting conservationists beat this, but this may be an incredible opportunity to shine the light from all angles on the Montana DOL and expose them for what they are.
    For everyone who thought that “Elk are King in the West” –both elk hunters and non-hunting wildlife watchers who were grateful that at least one big animal wasn’t perennially on the chopping block, this is quite a wake up call.

  5. Nancy Avatar

    I’d suggest to everyone who finds the possibility of this offensive (not to mention ludicrous AND scary) that they contact their local representatives and the governor… soon.

    As Save Bears mentioned:
    anyone that has ever worked or lived in the state of Montana, that is not associated with the livestock business knows that the Dept of livestock is a formidable enemy, which is why many of us have worked so damn hard to classify Bison as a game animal..to take their control away..

  6. william huard Avatar
    william huard

    This will give everyone in Montana an opportunity to see where the Governor stands in relation to livestock. Will he support cattle over the interests of everyone else in the state?

  7. Elk275 Avatar

    There is a lot of things on this forum that I do not agree with but this BS. The Barrett Ranch is vested as: Barrett Ranch Inc and Michael Barrett et al. Part of the ranch is located west of Clark’s Canyon Dam. Can anyone find out how much public land they graze and what subsidizes the government paid them. Inquiring minds want to know.

    1. JB Avatar

      Again, hunters and environmentalists are natural allies in most issues. Unfortunately, both groups often fail to see it.

    2. WM Avatar

      Some environmentalists are hunters, and vice versa.

      I am thinking there may be a Montana Constitutional issue here.

      “Article IX, Section 7. Preservation of harvest heritage. The opportunity to harvest wild fish and wild game animals is a heritage that shall forever be preserved to the individual citizens of the state and does not create a right to trespass on private property or diminution of other private rights.”

      It may even be an issue in the present Interagency Bison Management Plan at some level – just a thought. But, in the end I suppose these yahoos could even go as far as change the state Constitution if they had a mind to do so – but it is a lengthy cumbersome process.

    3. jon Avatar

      I don’t believe they are natural allies JB. Truthfully, I see them as enemies. There are many issues environmentalists disagree with hunters on. This issue with the future of elk hunting in jeopardy is one of the few things both sides I’m sure can agree on. Elk is wildlife.

  8. Craig Avatar

    If this doesn’t raise HELL and get both groups to the forefront for a cause nothing will! I can’t even believe they are trying this! They are going for all or nothing and we all need to gang up and kick some ass on this one, because they have a lot to lose and if they win we have even more to lose!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears


    Really, this is not a story about wolves and elk, it is about a power grab, by one of the worse agencies in the Montana state government..look at the wording of the proposed bill…”Extend to other Wildlife” is a very scary part of the bill, it essentially guts the power of the Montana Fish wildlife and Parks to manage and wildlife…it is one of the boldest moves to take away the ability of FWP to do exactly what they were set up for, if this bill passes, you might as well forget it, wolves will be taken out, elk will be drastically reduced and hunter opportunities will be curtailed and the state will never allow bison to roam in the state…

    This is far bigger than the wolf/elk controversy..

  10. Save bears Avatar
    Save bears

    I hit submit to quick, right now it is time for both side to unite an fight this, hunters and pro wolf people are going to continue to have drastic difference for a long time to come, but if this passes BOTH sides loose, people need to set aside the rift that exists and tell their representatives how they feel on this..then go back to fighting over the wolf/elk issue ….

  11. Ken Cole Avatar

    Barrett Ranch Inc received payments totaling $115,652 from 1995 through 2006


  12. Ken Cole Avatar

    Stay on topic people. Enough of the personal sniping.

  13. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I wonder if these Barretts have any relation to Rep. Lenore Barrett of Challis, Idaho?

    1. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears


      I have been researching it for a couple of days now, and have not found any real connections..the Idaho Barrett provides quite a bit of information, the Montana Barrett is very difficult to get information out of.

      By the way, welcome back.

    2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      Save Bears,

      I’m glad you are looking for connections. In a related matter, I think someone should do the real story on Lenore Barrett, who pretends to be a Challis native daughter.

      By the way, I am still away. A dust storm today drove us into Bishop, CA and a motel.

      It was good to see that the Owens River has been restored a bit near Lone Pine with a little water in Owens Lake and waterfowl now along the lower river.

    3. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears


      I did find out, she ain’t no native, she was born and raised in Oklahoma, where the wind comes whistling down the plains, I have wrote requesting information on the MT Barrett but have not received any response as of yet, I suspect, I will have to file a freedom request to get the information.

      Been through some of those sand storms, I was in AZ one time and you would have sworn my car was sand blasted by time we got through it, the whole passenger side of the car was stripped!

  14. jon Avatar

    Good to have you back Ralph. Hope you enjoyed your vacation. Things have been a little hectic around here.

    1. Save bears Avatar
      Save bears


      Actually in the overall picture, things have for the most part been civil and calm..

    2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      Hi Jon,

      I won’t be back for a few days yet. See my reply to Save Bears above.


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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