Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Legislature’s “War on Montana’s Wildlife”

The “War on Montana’s Wildlife” has begun in the 2013 Montana Legislature, as evidenced by a host of anti-wildlife bills working their way through the legislative process.

Last week, the Senate FWP committee heard Sen. Murphy’s (R-Cardwell) bill, whose goal is to make it impossible to reintroduce bighorn sheep anywhere in Montana. Murphy, a rancher, testified that, “I object to the competition being added to the livestock producers who graze their stock there”. Murphy was referring to PUBLIC LANDS, and his attitude is, unfortunately, representative of Montana’s livestock industry, which believes that forage on our PUBLIC LANDS should - first and foremost – be used for grazing cattle and sheep, and that native wildlife are merely an inconvenient “competition for grass”. We have 2.5 million cows in Montana, and Montana’s ranching industry wants to displace public wildlife from public lands, for even more cows.
 There is indeed a “War on Wildlife”; with many species is in the legislature’s crosshairs. There are bills in the drafting process to prevent wild bison from having a place on Montana’s public lands; others to more aggressively remove predators, such as mountain lions,bears, and wolves.
The” War on Montana’s Wildlife” includes bills to use FWP’s budget, which largely comes from sportsmen’s dollars, to pay for livestock killed by grizzlies, and to pay for aggressive programs to address brucellosis in elk, which may involve killing elk who may have been exposed to brucellosis.
The “War on Montana’s Wildlife” is wrong and misguided. Montana’s wildlife is a crucial component of Montana citizen’s heritage, and wildlife has enormous benefits to Montana’s tourism economy, which generates MORE income and jobs than ranching.
Montans’s wildlife is precious. It is threatened. The ranching industry’s legislative “War on Wildlife” is real. GET INVOLVED!

Not all of the above laws are harmful to wildlife. Bills and placeholders to especially watch out for are:
SB 83, LC0155,  HB 73, LC0470, LC0793, LC0847, LC0958, LC0960, LC1105, LC1600, LC1512 - the majority of which are sponsored by rancher legislators.


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