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Archive for the month “November, 2011”

New Montana Sportsmen’s Organization May Not Be Exactly What They Claim

This is the day that the USFWS threw sound wildlife management right out the door…and released the first of those Canadian wolves into the Greater Yellowstone Area.  Some radical environmentalists call the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Project a great conservation success story…those who have witnessed the loss of game and the damage wolves are now doing to livestock production call it something else – THE GREATEST WILDLIFE DISASTER OF OUR LIFETIMES!

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MONTANA HUNTERS AND ANGLERS ACTION

With the national elections now less than a year away, most of us really expected the campaign mudslinging to shift into high gear. Here in Montana, we will elect a new Governor in November 2012, and there will be a lot of jockeying for the state senator and state representative seats. However, the most hotly contested spot in Montana politics will likely be for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Senator Jon Tester. His primary opponent is current U.S. Representative Denny Rehberg.

The mud is already flying in this battle. And leading the charge against Rehberg is the most unlikely group, calling itself Montana Hunters and Anglers Action.

So, just who is Montana Hunters and Anglers Action? Well, a lot of this state’s sportsmen have been asking themselves that very question. Those who hunt here have watched the quality of the big game hunting in western Montana disintegrate, from some of the best in North America to some of the absolute worst – thanks to a wolf experiment gone wrong. Likewise, many of this state’s fishermen are less than thrilled by fisheries management, especially in some large lakes where an all out effort is being made to destroy thriving lake trout populations, to make room for more of the native bull trout – a fish which many fishermen feel is the trout equivalent of the carp.

Are these some of the issues that concern those making up the 501 (c) (4) not-for-profit Montana Hunters and Anglers Action? Apparently not, their agenda is far more political. Currently, this new group is making an all out attack on Congressman Rehberg’s support of H.R. 1505, legislation which would provide stronger security of America’s borders. The television ad many have gotten tired of listening to calls the bill the “Rehberg Land Grab”, claiming that sportsmen could be shut out of nearly a third of Montana’s public lands.

Chuck Cushman, Director of American Land Rights, says, “A bureaucratic turf war between federal employees is putting national security and private property at risk. H.R. 1505 ends the turf war by giving border patrol agents access to the border on federal lands to do their job. But radical environmentalists who don’t support private property or secure borders are up in arms because this law prioritizes national security over their pet environmental laws.”

Could Montana Hunters and Anglers Action be simply a front for what is really just another radical environmental group? A group with a political agenda? Let’s take a look at those who head this pseudo sportsmen’s organization.

The Director of Montana Hunters and Anglers Action is George Cooper, a senior vice president of a major political lobbying group in Washington, D.C. The President of this sportsmen’s group in Land Tawney, who also happens to sit on the Montana Sportsmen for Obama Committee, and is a member of Senator Jon Tester’s Sportsmen’s Advisory Panel. Elected state senator Kendall Van Dyke (D-Billings) serves as the group’s Secretary, and also sits on the Montana Sportsmen for Obama Committee. Treasurer Barrett Kaiser is a former staffer for Senator Max Baucus, and served as a consultant to Senator Tester’s 2006 campaign.

Theirs is truly a politically driven agenda. But what could be the motivation of a “sportsmen’s organization” which seems to ignore issues which are truly impacting the quality of hunting and fishing in Montana?

Tiptoe through the Montana Hunters and Anglers Action website at http://www.montanahuntersandanglers.org and it does not take long to realize that this group is all about wilderness. This state is very blessed to have the truly wild places we have. But there are those who feel that we need even more “wilderness” areas. One extremely radical agenda, known as the Wildlands Network, would turn approximately half of the U.S. into wilderness areas or into “Wildlands Corridors”, providing connective passageways for wildlife from one area to another. Part of that big scheme would be to establish what has been dubbed the “Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative”. This would turn much of western Montana and most of northern Idaho, plus a good share of western Canada, into one huge wild corridor…where human activities would be severely curtailed or eliminated. And dozens of environmental organizations are collaborating to see this through by chipping away at “public use” of “public land”.

Now, a secure border between the U.S. and Canada would kind of throw a wrench into those plans…wouldn’t it? Could it be that opposition to H.R. 1505 by those of Montana Hunters and Anglers Action is due to their zest to “re-wild” the American West? Or does their political agenda go even deeper, with an all out effort to see that Denny Rehberg is not elected to the U.S. Senate?

“These groups will stop at nothing to misrepresent this good law as something it is not, and they’ve already spent a quarter of a million dollars in Montana to spread their lies. If you support private property, and if you support secure national borders, you should support H.R. 1505,” claims Chuck Cushman of American Land Rights.

He says that Montana Hunters and Anglers Action is a fake group, established to confuse Montana voters and defeat Denny Rehberg. – Toby Bridges, LOBO WATCH

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Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks In Dire Need Of New Calculators!

I have no doubt that there are plenty of knowledgeable wildlife managers and biologists working with the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks. Some are surely well versed in most things which positively or negatively affect big game numbers. But after clashing with a few FWP regional managers and biologists, I’ve come to realize that just about everyone at FWP who I’ve been in contact with truly sucks at math. When it comes to their numbers, their percentages, their projections, their calculations, and just about everything and anything else requiring some degree of mathematics…MT FWP’s numbers simply do not add up.

At one county commissioner meeting (on predator control) in Ravalli County, MT FWP Region 2 Wildlife Manager Mike Thompson actually tried to present “wolf math” without using any numbers whatsoever. Using the chalk board in the meeting room, he drew base lines and growth curves, throwing in projected decline curves in an attempt to show those attending where the wolf population was…is now…the probable growth rate…and the drop in the wolf population should this year’s wolf quota be filled. And other than the verbal use of the “220” quota for the season that’s now underway, no other numbers were used, implied, and especially not written on the graph Thompson shared. The result looked a lot like something Picasso may have sketched at the height of a drunken “stooper”[sic]!

Mike Thompson was quick to erase his masterpiece of deception before sitting down.

FWP has become well known for its “voodoo math” and biased pie charts and graphs which have thrown up a smoke and mirrors cover up for the REAL wolf numbers in this state, and to hide the degree of damage wolves have dealt our big game populations. And when concerned sportsmen, economically impacted livestock producers, and living scared rural residents have the opportunity to call their hand when it comes to FWP’s lack of REAL numbers, the citizens of this state who are being severely impacted by growing wolf and grizzly bear numbers are no longer backing down.

Perhaps, just perhaps, the agency is now realizing that what WE SEE and what THEY CLAIM are not adding up.

I received an e-mail from one LOBO WATCH follower yesterday (November 3) in regard to a meeting he attended in Kalispell the evening before. At that meeting, FWP Region 1 Wildlife Manager Jim Williams told those in the audience that in just that region they now acknowledge 44 wolf packs, averaging 7 wolves per pack. Now, just a few seconds on a calculator reveals that the “pack population” of wolves in that region adds up to 308 wolves.

But, what about the wolves that do not run with a known pack?

MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks…ID Department of Fish and Game…and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have, since the launch of the disaster known as the Northern Rockies Wolf Recovery Plan, have tended to only recognize a “pack” as a group of wolves with a breeding pair. These agencies have recognized that there are likely as many or more groups of wolves without a breeding pair – and these wolves tend to be forgotten when these “experts” determine the “at least” numbers they throw around as if they are the REAL number of wolves. The last “at least” number I saw for Montana was 637 (I believe).

Come on FWP…REALLY?

Let’s say that Jim Williams is correct about the 44 packs…and 7 wolves per pack…count in Region 1. Now add to that the “probably at least” additional non-pack wolves. Let’s say an average of 3.5 wolves per group. And to be fair, let’s say there are “at least” as many non-breeding groups as there are “breeding packs”. That would add another 154 wolves to the equation.

Then, we have the lone wolves. Over the past 12 months, I personally have seen 17 wolves. Five of those wolves were as alone as a wolf can get. One was down near Dillon, out in the middle of a huge open flat…and there was not another living thing within 2 or 3 miles of that wolf. Another loner I spotted worked the entire side of a fairly open mountain slope for nearly an hour, while I watched from across a wide valley. There was not another wolf with it. I’m sure we would be a lot closer than FWP’s assessment of lone wolf numbers by saying that in Region 1 there is “at least” 40.

Now, if we add those numbers up, we come up with a “probably at least” Region 1 wolf population of 502 wolves, +/- 2%.

Now, if there is a like number of wolves in Region 2 and in Region 3, plus allowing for wolves in at least half of Region 4 and Region 5, and a few in Regions 6 & 7, there is a very, very good chance that the REAL number of wolves in Montana is more like 1,900 to 2,000.  And that’s a far cry from the “at least” 637 being touted by MT FWP earlier this year.

Wolves are not the only thing that FWP seems to have severely miscounted.  At that same Kalispell meeting, FWP Regional Wildlife Manager Jim Williams also told those attending that in Region 1 alone, there are now right at 1,000 grizzly bears.  Wait a minute, hasn’t FWP been claiming there were “at least” something like 800 of the big bears in the entire state?  What gives?

Yes, perhaps it is time that FWP added another slip of paper for our wallets, to go with the licenses and permits we buy, along with the conservation license and hunting access enhancement fees for which we fork out more dollars.  That new slip of paper could possibly be called “Game Numbers Assessment Enhancement”…and the money used to buy every FWP manager, biologist and officer in the field a new calculator…a note pad…and maybe one of them fancy space pens that writes upside down, under water and when temperatures get down to -60 degrees.  –  Toby Bridges, LOBO WATCH

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