Dear Mr. Tourtlotte,
Considering you were not able to appear in person at the Senate Fish and Game Committee Confirmation Hearings last Thursday, I have a few questions I would like to ask in order to help me to better understand your approach to the duties of this position should you be confirmed. If you could return your answers to me by 1pm Tuesday 4/18, I will review them and take them into consideration prior to the Senate Fish and Game Committee’s action concerning the confirmations.
1) The Montana Trappers Association is concerned that the Commission may impose regulations requiring them to check traps at specific intervals of time. This idea comes from anti-trapping activists who seek to make trapping more and more restrictive, and hence less and less feasible. Given that trapping is conducted during winter months and conditions can be extremely harsh, it would be problematic and even unsafe, to require trappers to go out on the trap line at predetermined time intervals. Regulations currently recommend trap checks every 48 hours, regardless of conditions or set type. This is an arbitrary number. In some cases traps need to be checked more frequently and in other cases less frequently. For example, in warm weather frequent checks are necessary to prevent rot. In cold weather there is no chance of rot, and it could be impractical and even dangerous to require trappers to go out in periods of abnormally harsh conditions. The Montana Trappers association offers an excellent Trapper Education Course in which the importance of reasonable trap checks, based on conditions and set types, are emphasized.
QUESTION: If confirmed, will you support a) Mandatory Trap Check Intervals, or b) Recommended Trap Check Intervals?
2) I have received a number of complaints from Hunter Education Instructors who are concerned about a few key matters. One, they are not allowed to teach effective hand gun handling and safety as a part of their course offerings. Apparently they can show a video but cannot offer hands on training of any kind. The instructors believe it is imperative to cover hand gun safety more appropriately because hand guns are used for some types of hunting and their short barrel length requires extra precautions. Also side arms are often carried for self-defense by hunters, and a Hunter Education certificate can be used as evidence of appropriate training needed to obtain a concealed carry permit.QUESTION: If confirmed, will you support a) continued prohibition of teaching Hand Gun Handling & Safety properly, or b) Allow hands on instruction of Hand Gun Handling & Safety?
3) For decades, the Montana Trappers Association has offered high quality Trapper Education courses with a detailed curriculum and Instructor Certification Program. The department is considering recommendations that may substantially alter this program, as well as revise trapping regulations in a number of other ways.
QUESTION: If confirmed, will you support a requirement that, as regulators, Fish & Game Commissioners attend an educational workshop conducted by MTA prior to the Commission ruling on any changes to existing programs and protocols?
4) Quiet Waters: The public meetings have been completed. There is plenty of information on this subject.
QUESTION: If confirmed, will you support implementation of the Quiet Waters initiative or reject it?
5) For years FWP has shown bias in favor of hard left partisan interest groups including Montana Wildlife Federation (and their subsidiaries), Back Country Hunters and Anglers, Montana Sportsmen’s Alliance, Trout Unlimited, Back Country Horsemen, and Montana Bow Hunters Association. While engaged in varying degrees of political activism, some of these organizations do not have broad membership nor do they represent balanced objectivity concerning the broad range of sportsmen who participate in the activities these groups associate themselves with.QUESTION: Will you insist on equally engaging non partisan and also conservative-leaning sportsmens’ organizations in order to avoid bias and bring balance into the FWP decision making processes? If so, how would you do this?
Thank you very much for your willingness to serve, and for taking time to offer a response.
Sen. Jennifer Fielder
Montana State Senate - District 7, R-Thompson Falls
Chair – Senate Fish & Game Committee
Vice Chair – Senate Judiciary Committee
Member – Senate Natural Resources Committee
Member – Legislative Administration Committee
Member – Committee on Committees
Mobile Phone: 406 210 5944
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